10 Great Biology Activities and Lessons

Students: Plant Experiment
Students experimenting with plants in biology class. Niedring/Drentwett/Getty Images

Biology activities and lessons allow students to investigate and learn about biology through hands-on experience. Below is a list of 10 great biology activities and lessons for K-12 teachers and students.

K-8 Activities and Lessons

1. Cells

Animal Cell
This is a diagram of an animal cell. colematt/iStock/Getty Images Plus 

The Cell as a System: This activity enables students to explore the components of a cell and how they work together as a system.

Objectives: Students will identify major cell components; know structures and functions of components; understand how the parts of a cell interact together.

Resources:
Cell Anatomy
- Discover the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

Cell Organelles - Learn about the types of organelles and their function within cells.

15 Differences Between Animal and Plant Cells - Identify 15 ways in which animal cells and plant cells differ from one another.

2. Mitosis

The Cell Cycle
The Cell Cycle. By Kelvinsong (Own work) [ CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Mitosis and Cell Division: This lesson introduces students to the process of cell mitosis.

Objectives: Students will understand the processes of cell reproduction and chromosome replication.

Resources:
Mitosis
- This stage-by-stage guide to mitosis describes the major events that occur in each mitotic stage.

Mitosis Glossary - This glossary lists commonly used mitosis terms.

Mitosis Quiz - This quiz is designed to test your knowledge of the mitotic process.

3. Meiosis

Meiosis Telophase II
Lily Anther Microsporocyte in Telophase II of Meiosis. Ed Reschke/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Meiosis and Gamete Production: This activity helps students explore meiosis and sex cell production.

Objectives: Students will describe the steps in meiosis and understand the difference between mitosis and meiosis.

Resources:
Stages of Meiosis
- This illustrated guide describes each stage of meiosis.

7 Differences Between Mitosis and Meiosis - Discover 7 differences between the division processes of mitosis and meiosis.

4. Owl Pellet Dissection

Owl Pellet
This image shows small animal bones found in an owl pellet.  Dave King/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images Plus

Dissecting Owl Pellets: This activity allows students to explore owl eating habits and digestion through dissecting owl pellets.

Objectives: Students learn how to examine, gather, and interpret data through owl pellet dissections.

Resources:
Online Dissections
- These virtual dissection resources allow you to experience actual dissections without all of the mess.

5. Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis Study
A young boy studies photosynthesis and is using a microscope. Andrew Rich/Getty Images

Photosynthesis and How Plants Make Food: This lesson explores photosynthesis and how plants use light to make food.

Objectives: Students will discover how plants make food, transport water, and the importance of plants to the environment.

Resources:
The Magic of Photosynthesis
- Discover how plants turn sunlight into energy.

Plant Chloroplasts - Find out how chloroplasts make photosynthesis possible.

Photosynthesis Quiz - Test your knowledge of photosynthesis by taking this quiz.

8-12 Activities and Lessons

1. Mendelian Genetics

Drosophila melanogaster
Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly, vinegar fly).  Sinhyu/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Using Drosophila to Teach Genetics: This activity is designed to help students apply basic genetics concepts to a living organism.

Objective: Students learn how to use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to apply knowledge of heredity and Mendelian genetics.

Resources:
Mendelian Genetics
- Explore how traits are passed from parents to offspring.

Genetic Dominance Patterns - Examine the differences among complete dominance, incomplete dominance, and co-dominance relationships.

Polygenic Inheritance - Discover the types of traits that are determined by multiple genes.

2. Extracting DNA

DNA molecule
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule, illustration.  KTSDESIGN/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Extracting DNA: This activity is designed to help students learn about the structure and function of DNA through DNA extraction.

Objectives: Students understand relationships between DNA, chromosomes, and genes. They understand how to extract DNA from living sources.

Resources: DNA From a Banana - Try this simple experiment that demonstrates how to extract DNA from a banana.

Make a DNA Model Using Candy - Discover a sweet and fun way to make a DNA model using candy.

3. The Ecology of Your Skin

Staphylococcus epidermidis
Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria are part of the normal flora found in the body and on the skin.  Janice Haney Carr/ CDC

Bacteria That Live on the Skin: In this activity, students discover the diverse organisms that live on the human body.

Objectives: Students examine the relationship between humans and skin bacteria.

Resources:
Bacteria That Live on Your Skin
- Discover 5 types of bacteria that live on your skin.

Microbe Ecosystems of the Body - The human microbiome includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even mites.

A Guide to Different Types of Pathogens - Learn about six types of pathogens that can make you sick.

Top 5 Reasons to Wash Your Hands - Washing and drying your hands properly is a simple and effective way to prevent the spread of disease.

4. The Heart

Human Heart Cross Section
Human heart cross section showing blood circulation through the heart. jack0m/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Heart to Heart: This lesson helps students explore heart function, structure, and blood pumping activity.

Objectives: Students explore the anatomy of the heart and blood circulation.

Resources:
Heart Anatomy
- This guide provides and overview of the function and anatomy of the heart.

Circulatory System - Learn about the pulmonary and systemic paths of blood circulation.

5. Cellular Respiration

Cellular Respiration
Cellular Respiration. Purestock/Getty Images

ATP Please!: This lesson helps students explore the role of mitochondria in ATP production during aerobic cellular respiration.

Objectives: Students will be able to identify the steps of ATP production and the function of cell mitochondria.

Resources:

Cellular Respiration - Discover how cells harvest the energy from the foods we eat.

Glycolysis - This is the first step of cellular respiration where glucose is split into two molecules for the production of ATP.

Citric Acid Cycle - Also known as the Krebs Cycle, this is the second step of cellular respiration.

Electron Transport Chain - The majority of ATP production occurs in this final stage of cellular respiration.

Mitochondria - These cell organelles are the sites of aerobic cellular respiration.

Biology Experiments

For information on science experiments and lab resources, see: