remind them that because organisms are very diverse, different organisms use energy for differentthings. However,
at a fundamental level all organisms are trying to achieve the goal of reproducing and passing on their genes to the next generation.
Ask what sorts of things give us energy. They will probably mention food, and explain to themthat much of the energy we get from food comes in the form of carbohydrates such as starch. However,
our body can't use starch directly for energy, so it has to convert it into sugars
which then get usedto create the energy that powers our body (the exact details are not important at this level). To carry outthis task,
our body has developed enzymes that help break down starch into sugar. An enzyme isa protein catalyst and makes different chemical reactions go faster.
One enzyme that helps to break down starch into sugar can be found in our saliva (if they are curious, it is called amylase). If you chewbread or crackers long enough, eventually they will start to taste sweet because some of the starch isbeing converted into sugar. Tell the students that you will be testing this with an experiment.
Iodine Starch Test (20 min.)
Explain that iodine can be used to test for starch. When iodine comes into contact with starch, itturns a blue/black color.
Ask if anyone can think of how we can use iodine to test if our salivabreaks down the starch in the crackers.
If they have trouble, you can suggest first testing a crackerfor starch with iodine, then chewing on a cracker until it tastes sweet (a sign that the starch has beendecomposed), and then testing that chewed cracker to see if there is any starch left.Have the students get into groups of 4 (for a total of 8-10 groups). Hand out a Dixie cup andtwo crackers to each group, and
have them develop a hypothesis of what will happen
. The tutorsshould then go around to each group, and
ask them what their hypothesis is before you do theexperiment.
Put a few drops of iodine on one of the crackers to make sure it contains starch (it shouldturn bluish/black). Then have one of the students chew on a cracker for a while until they start to tastesweetness, and have them spit it into the Dixie cup (it is good if there is lots of saliva). Add a fewdrops of iodine to the sample in the cup, and have them note any observations. Did the iodine turn ablue/black color? What does that signify?
NOTE: Iodine stains clothing and skin, so be careful when handling it not to get it on anything.