Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Using Toys to Explore Enzyme Activity in DNA replication (Day 1 of 2) - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Creating Graphs and Connecting the Data to the Big Idea


This particular lesson is well suited to discuss data as represented in a visual format.  The experiment is short, if there are issues there is time to redo, repeat, or add additional trials, and the questions that come up about the consistency and validity of the data are readily apparent to students.

Questions that can come up from this data:

  • Are five trials sufficient to make a conclusion about enzyme activity and reaction rates?
  • Would it be acceptable to simply graph the averages from this experiment? Why or why not?
  • How could we make our data more representative of the overall experiment?

Students will notice that having one outlyer point completely shifts the average, making the comparison of averages alone less than representative of the trials.  They will understand that adding trials matters and that throwing out the highest and lowest trial numbers could also give rise to more representative data. 

The large or small differences between the reaction rates with and without enzyme activity also brings up great questions as well, like:

  • Does the difference in chemical reaction speed for reactions with or without an enzyme have to be dramatic in order to be important? 
  • Is the difference going to be the same for each type of chemical reaction?

The idea that potentially shifting the speeds slightly faster could be enough to be significant in the life of a cell or an organism will come up very easily while looking at this data together.  In addition, because of our model work in a previous lesson series early on in this unit, students will be able to see that every chemical reaction will have different results.

I am so happy we worked with this enzyme simulation lab this semester.  Many students told me it not only solidified their knowledge of enzyme structure and function and graphing basics, but it also connected back to DNA terminology in a substantive way that reinforced their ability to recall and appropriate use our scientific vocabulary throughout this unit.

  Using Graphs to Explore Best Practices in Science
  Adjustments to Practice: Using Graphs to Explore Best Practices in Science
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Using Toys to Explore Enzyme Activity in DNA replication (Day 1 of 2)

Unit 7: Unit 7: DNA & Protein Synthesis
Lesson 13 of 22

Objective: SWBAT connect their understanding of basic enzyme structure and function to the specific work of DNA polymerase in DNA replication

Big Idea: Your kids will be amazed and engaged as they simulate enzyme action using Hexbug toys and see that enzymes really do speed up chemical reactions!

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