■ safety goggles

■ disposable gloves

■ block of phenolphthalein agar (3 x 6 cm)

■ plastic knife

■ plastic spoon


1. Substances enter and leave a cell in several ways including by diffusion.

2. Describe the process of diffusion.

3. Define the terms surface area and volume.

4. How efficiently a cell can exchange substances depends on the surface area-to-volume ratio. Surface area-to-volume ratio can be calculated by dividing surface area by volume of the cell (surface area + volume of cell).

niiA Designing an Experiment

1. Using the materials listed for this lab, design an experiment to test how the surface area-to-volume ratio affects the diffusion of a substance into a cell.

You Choose

As you design your experiment, decide the following:

a. what question you will explore b. what hypothesis you will test c. how many "cells" (agar cubes) you will have and what sizes they will be d. how long to leave the "cells" in the vinegar e. how to determine how far the vinegar diffused into a "cell"

f. how to prevent contamination of agar cubes as you handle them g. what data to record in your data table

2. Write a procedure for your experiment. Make a list of all the safety precautions you will take. Have your teacher approve your procedure and safety precautions before you begin the experiment.

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