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Investigating Osmosis Effects on Plant Cells

Osmosis, the diffusion of water, is one of the easiest types of membrane transport to measure. Plant cells are affected by hypertonic, hypotonic, and isotonic solutions much like animal cells are. However, since plant cells have cell walls, they will not explode like animal cells in hypotonic solutions. This lab has students place carrot sticks in different saltwater solutions. They measure the mass, length, and rigidity of each carrot stick before and after exposure to the solution.

Essential concepts: Plasma membrane, fluid dynamics, cell wall, osmosis, diffusion, hypertonic, hypotonic, isotonic, tonicity.

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