10 High School Science Lab Experiments - Biology

Ginelle Testa

At its core, biology aims to answer fundamental questions about the nature of life, such as how organisms are composed, how they function and maintain homeostasis, how they grow and reproduce, how they evolve and adapt to their environment, and how they interact with one another and their surroundings. 

High school biology teachers have so many in-person and virtual lab options for high school lab experiments. We’ve broken them down into five categories:

  • DNA Experiments
  • Microscopy Experiments
  • Osmosis & Diffusion Experiments
  • Bacteria experiments 
  • Genetics Experiments

DNA Experiments

In-person lab: Extracting DNA from Strawberries

This activity teaches students about the structure and function of DNA while also demonstrating how DNA can be isolated from cells. Students crush strawberries and use a lysis buffer to break down cell and nuclear membranes, releasing the DNA. The mixture is then filtered, and rubbing alcohol is added to precipitate the DNA, making it visible as a cloudy, stringy substance.

Virtual lab: DNA: Structure and Function

In the narrative of this virtual lab, students will work as an intern for a science magazine, Science Explained. One of the magazine’s readers has written a letter. They’re confused about DNA and have some questions about its structure and function. It’s their job to find out the answers and clear things up. They’ll get to learn how DNA is structured and how DNA’s code translates to functional molecules called proteins.

Virtual lab looking at DNA.

Microscopy Experiments

In-person experiment: Onion cell microscopy

This teaches students about cell structure and function using onion epidermal cells. Students prepare a wet mount slide with a thin layer of onion cells, stain them with iodine, and observe the cells under a microscope. It allows students to visualize plant cell components, such as the cell wall, cell membrane, and nucleus, while gaining experience with microscopy techniques.

Virtual lab: Meiosis, Mitosis and Plant Gametes 

Students will use microscopy to study samples of lily anthers while helping the team at the laboratory. They’ll study the process of cell division and discover the key differences between meiosis and mitosis. 

snapshot of meiosis, mitosis and plant gametes virtual lab

Osmosis & Diffusion Experiments

In-person lab: Diffusion and osmosis with eggs

Students use decalcified eggs (eggs soaked in vinegar to remove the shell) to study the processes of diffusion and osmosis. By immersing the eggs in various solutions, such as distilled water or corn syrup, students can observe changes in mass and size due to the movement of water across the semi-permeable membrane of the egg.

Virtual lab: Osmosis and Diffusion: Choose the right solution for an intravenous drip

In this virtual lab, students will help save Frank’s life by choosing the correct saline solution for an intravenous drip. He’s dehydrated because of sunstroke and needs extra fluids. They’ll join our virtual lab assistant in the lab to discover what a hypotonic, isotonic, and hypertonic solution is and how water is transported across the cell membrane in osmosis.

preview of osmosis and diffusion virtual lab

Photosynthesis Experiments

In-person lab: Photosynthesis and respiration in plants

Students use an aquatic plant, such as Elodea, and a dissolved oxygen probe or a simple inverted test tube setup to measure the rate of oxygen production during photosynthesis and consumption during cellular respiration. This experiment helps students understand the complementary processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in plants.

Virtual lab: Photosynthesis: Electron transport chain

To understand how photosynthesis works, students will shrink to a tiny size and go inside the plant cell of a leaf. Travel further inside the cell into the chloroplast, and then look at the thylakoid membrane. The process of photosynthesis takes place here. Observe the different components of the electron transport chain, from the start of the chain at photosystem II to the end of the chain at ATP synthase. 

virtual lab where students go inside the plant cell of a leaf

Bacteria experiments 

In-person experiment: Bacterial growth and antibiotic resistance

Students culture bacteria (e.g., E. coli) on agar plates and test the effectiveness of different antibiotics. They observe zones of inhibition, where bacterial growth is prevented, and learn about antibiotic resistance and the importance of proper antibiotic use.

Virtual lab: Gram Stain: How stains and counterstains work

Dive into the microscopic world and discover the colorful magic of the Gram staining procedure! Students will compare and contrast the cell wall of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria by diving into their microscopic samples and observing how the cell wall structures retain certain reagents during the experiment. Discover how the four reagents of the Gram stain interact with structural components of the cell wall to color the bacteria.       

snapshot of the gram stain virtual lab

Genetics Experiments

In-person experiment: Monohybrid Cross and Mendelian Genetics

Students observe the results of monohybrid crosses involving a single trait. Using Punnett squares, students predict offspring ratios and compare them with observed outcomes from live organisms, such as pea plants or fruit flies. This activity helps students understand inheritance, dominant and recessive alleles, and how traits are passed from one generation to the next.

Virtual lab: Mendelian Inheritance: From genes to traits

Did you know that more than 99% of your genes are identical to those found in any other human being on the planet? In this simulation, students will learn how Mendel's postulates can be applied to determine how characteristics are inherited by being passed from one generation to the next.

preview of mendelian inheritance virtual lab

Are you excited by the idea of virtual labs? Check out our catalog of over 300 simulations and our free 30-day all-access educator’s pass. 

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