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Practical protocols

Volvox has in the pipeline about 50 practical laboratory activities; only a small selection of mostly British ones is shown here. The practical protocols can all be downloaded as PDF files. To choose the one you want, scroll down the page and use the images and descriptions to help you make a selection. Click on 'Read more' to discover more about each resource before you decide to download it. The page you link to will allow you to send feedback about each resource.


Ginger beer

Ginger beer

A refreshing, fermented low-alcohol drink

This recipe-based procedure can be used to introduce younger students to the principles of fermentation, food hygiene (a precursor to aseptic technique) and the biochemistry of respiration. There are also opportunities for more challenging problem-solving activites, some of a technological nature. Read more...

Chocolate challenge

The chocolate challenge

Quantitative sensory evaluation of food

Students use quantitative techniques to compare the taste and other properties of different brands of chocolate. The same principles can also be applied to other types of food. Read more...

DNA pendant

A DNA pendant

Crude extraction of DNA from human cheek cells

This protocol describes the crude extraction of DNA from human cheek cells. The DNA may be placed in a pendant to be worn round the neck. Read more...

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More juice from apples

Pectinases and cellulases can be used to enhance the yield of juice from apples and similar fruits

A simple practical protocol, allowing students to investigate how enzymes may be used to enhance the yield of fruit juice from apples and similar fruits. Read more...

Cat drinking milk

Better milk for cats

Immobilised lactase used to make lactose-reduced milk

This simple practical investigation introduces students to the principles of digestion and enzyme immobilisation. It can be used as the starting point for numerous more advanced activities such as the regulation of lactase production in Escherichia coli (the lac operon), the evolution and social significance of lactose tolerance in humans and the use of enzymes in food production. Read more...

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The raw and the cooked

The influence of temperature on the colour of meat

Different portions of minced meat are warmed up in a hot water bath to different temperatures from 50 to 80 °C and immediately cooled down in iced water. The meat is filtered and the colour of the supernatant is evaluated. Read more...

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Peeling citrus fruits

Pectinase provides a gentle way to peel citrus fruits

A simple practical protocol, allowing students to investigate how enzymes may be used to remove the peel from citrus and other fruits. Read more...

Oyster cap mushrooms

Oyster cap mushrooms

How to grow oyster mushrooms at home

Oyster cap mushrooms can easily be grown on clean, moistened toilet paper. This method is a good introduction to mycology, particularly for younger school pupils, because after the initial incubation the mushrooms appear within days. Investigations into the effect of light and ventilation on the shape of fruiting bodies can also be carried out. Read more ...

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Immobilised yeast

Immobilisation of yeast in calcium alginate beads

A practical method of immobilising yeast cells in calcium alginate is described. The entrapped cells can then be used to ferment sugar solutions. The volume of carbon dioxide produced can be measured. Read more ...

Immobilised algae

Immobilised algae for studying photosynthesis

Students immobilise algae in calcium alginate, then use the entrapped cells to study photosynthesis by placing them in hydrogencarbonate indicator solution and observing the colour change as the carbon dioxide is depleted. Read more ...

Immobilised algae

DNA from ‘caviar’

Simple extraction of DNA from fish eggs

This practical procedure allows the isolation of impure DNA from 'caviar' or fish eggs. The result is a pellet of material, which includes DNA but which will still be contaminated with lipids, carbohydrates and proteins. Samples prepared in this way may be 'run' on an electrophoresis gel. Read more...

DNA from caviar

Antibiotic resistance in Esherichia coli

A practical investigation of bacterial conjugation

Students investigate one way in which bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance through conjugation. The recipient strain Escherichia coli J-53R carries on its chromosome a gene conferring resistance to the antibiotic rifampicin. The donor strain, E. coli HT-99, harbours a plasmid that includes a gene conferring resistance to a second antibiotic, chloramphenicol. Liquid cultures of the two strains of bacteria are 'mated'. The recipient, donor and 'mated' cells are then plated on three different types of media: one containing rifampicin, one containing chloramphenicol and a one containing both antibiotics. After incubation, students interpret the results and they should find that antibiotic resistance has been transferred from one strain of E. coli to the other Read more...

Bacterial conjugation

I’m a worm, get me out of here

Natural selection of spaghetti worms

After acclimatising the local bird population to a new source of food, equal numbers of two different-coloured spaghetti 'worms' are presented to birds. Each day (or at regular intervals), the remaining 'worms' are allowed to 'breed' and the two colour morphs are replaced in proportion to those which remain. Over time, the proportion of the type of 'worms' that are left uneaten by the birds increases, thereby simulating directional selection. Read more...

Spaghetti worms

Sexual selection in brine shrimps

Practical investigations using Artemia franciscana

Students investigate mate selection on brine shrimps (Artemia franciscana), by one of two practical methods. Read more...

Brine shrimps