4 Biology Project Ideas for High School Students
Biology Projects are great teaching tools educators can use to boost student interest in the subject and spark classroom participation.
Testing plants and gravity
Testing root growth in relationship to gravity is a fun and simple idea. To do this, students need to cut a strip of paper towel approximately one inch wide. Then, they lay pinto beans on the strip and roll it up. Next, moisten the strip and tape it to a square of cardboard, placing the entire thing in a zip top bag. Finally, place it in a warm window and observe over time and look for roots and stems to sprout.
Once the roots and stems sprout, students will notice that the sprouts point up and the roots point down. After making this observation, students should turn the bag so the plant is growing sideways, then upside down, continuing to observe root growth with these changes
Fruit flies and tea
Tea is often offered as a healthful drink, but which tea is the most healthful? This project tries to answer that. To set up the fruit fly and tea experiment, students must create a mixture of tea and fruit fly food. This works best when students choose four different teas to test four different groups of flies. A fifth group — the control group — will receive fruit fly food with plain water. The tea should be brewed by seeping a tea bag in three tablespoons of boiling water for a set period of time. Then, it should be mixed with fruit fly food.
Once the food is prepared, it should be added to five separate vials. Then, each vial receives 10 adult fruit flies. Every day, the fruit flies that remain alive should be removed and transferred to a new vial that contains the same tea and food mixture. This should be repeated until all fruit flies have died. The student can then determine which food/tea mixture provided the greatest longevity to the flies.
Cleaning oil off birds
When birds are coated with oil after an oil spill, their life is at risk. This project will test a variety of solvents to determine which is the best to use in this situation. It uses feathers, not live birds, to make this determination.
The experiment begins with weighing several sets of feathers, then dipping bird feathers in oil. After the feathers are dipped, they are weighed again. This shows the weight of the oil on the feathers and serves as the means of measuring the effectiveness of the solvents.
Once they are all dipped and weighed, the feathers are washed in a range of cleaners, with one group remaining unwashed to serve as a control. After washing, the feathers are weighed yet again. This should indicate which solvent is the most effective, as the feathers washed in it will show the most oil weight loss.
Vitamin C and colds
Vitamin C is often offered as a solution to help prevent the common cold. This simple experiment helps determine if there is much fact to this common bit of advice. The student selects two groups of willing participants, preferably people who do not live in the same house. One group will agree to take a vitamin C tablet daily for a month, while the second will agree not to. All will record any cold symptoms they experience during that month.
At the end of the month, the groups will switch. After a second month, the data can be collected and analyzed to determine if taking vitamin C made a difference in cold symptoms.
Each of these biology project ideas tackles a different aspect of the subject, including botany, environmental science, human biology and zoology. They all provide an interesting way to present important biology ideas to students in a way that encourages inquiry.