Lesson plan and hands-on lab help students compare prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells

Cell Snap, by Odra Noel. Wellcome Images, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics is a no-cost, state-funded program for academically talented North Carolina students who aspire to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It brings talented students together with some of the state’s most talented teachers.

One of these talented teachers, Sara Greenberg, decided to take a lab she taught during her Summer Ventures experience and share it with teachers who could benefit from an integrated STEM enrichment activity.

The lesson Greenberg developed helps students analyze prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and discern the differences between them. The freely-available lesson plan also introduces a manageable way for teachers to introduce real-life laboratory skills and experiences in their classrooms.

Greenberg hopes that by carrying out the lesson and accompanying lab, teachers can help students “not only gain a way to practice lab skills, but also practice their critical thinking.” Greenberg says, “This lesson is particularly effective because it allows students to interact with the material that we are learning.  Students now have real visuals and experiences to associate with prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.”

View the Lesson Plan

The “Comparing Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Cells” lesson plans includes a slide presentation, several activities and a hands-on lab. The lesson aligns to NC Essential Standards (Biology) 1.1.2: Compare prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells in terms of their general structures (plasma membrane and genetic material) and degree of complexity.

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