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Lab osmosis and diffusion

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Lab 4 Cell Structure, Osmosis, and Diffusion

Introduction: Connecting Your Learning

The basic building block of life is the cell. Each cell contains several structures, some of which are common to both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells and some that are unique to specific cell types. This lab will discuss cell structures and how materials are moved in and out of the cell. Specifically, the principles of diffusion and osmosis will be demonstrated by performing a scientific investigation that studies the effect of salt concentration on potato cells.

Focusing Your Learning

Background Information

In 1662, Robert Hooke investigated the properties of cork when he discovered cells. He named them after small rooms in a monastery because they reminded him of them. Years later, in 1837, Schleiden and Schwann were attributed with developing the cell theory. While their original theory was modified, the fundamental ideas be- hind the theory held true. Three general postulates are included in the cell theory: 1) All organisms are composed of cells. 2) The cell is the unit of life. 3) All cells arise from pre-existing cells.

Because a cell is the basic building block of living things, it is important to become familiar with its characteristics. Several structures comprise a cell. Many of these structures are visible with the use of a standard compound microscope. Below are pictures of idealized plant and animal cells, illustrating the important structures.

The cell membrane encloses all cells and is responsible for separating the internal en- vironment from the extracellular space (the space between cells). Because other struc- tures within the cell are also surrounded by a membrane, the outer membrane is of- ten called the plasma membrane.