Activity Overview

As students learn about basic plant and animal cells, doing a hands-on experiment is a great way for them to observe the differences in real things. The Onion-Cheek Experiment is a simple introductory experiment to help students practice using the microscope while they examine the differences and similarities between cells.

Students will use this worksheet to record their hypothesis, observations, and any conclusions they can make about basic cells. It is set up for just observing onion cells and cheek cells, but can be added to include additional cells for observation.

Clicking "Use This Assignment" will copy the worksheet into your teacher account. Feel free to make any adjustments to instructions or the items on the worksheet to tailor it for your students and the way you'll be conducting the experiment.

Materials Needed

  • Microscope
  • Glass Slides & Covers
  • Iodine
  • Onion
  • Cheek
  • Tooth Pick
  • Dropper
  • This Worksheet

Experiment Instructions

  1. Create a hypothesis about plant and animal cells and write it into the hypothesis box on the worksheet.
  2. Cut the onion into the thinnest slice you can (this part may be done by the teacher).
  3. Put a drop of iodine on one glass slide.
  4. Lay the onion slice on the slide and cover it.
  5. Observe the slice under the microscope at 100x and 400x.
  6. Record observations and draw what the cell looks like.
  7. Rub the toothpick on the inside of your cheek.
  8. Rub cheek cells onto a new glass slide.
  9. Add iodine to the slide and cover it.
  10. Observe the cheek cells under the microscope at 100x and 400x.
  11. Record observations and draw what the cell looks like.
  12. Formulate a conclusion and write it into the conclusion box on the worksheet.

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