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Biology Students Conduct Experiment on Lactase

Irvington High School students, who have been learning about biological molecules, conducted a science experiment to demonstrate their conceptual understanding of enzymes. As part of the lab activity, called “Walter Thinks Lactaid Is a Lie,” the students practiced their skills of developing a sound procedure to prove that Lactaid pills can break down lactose in dairy.

Throughout the experiment, which was part of an assignment in Nadia Parikka’s biology class, the students collaborated with a partner. Drawing upon prior knowledge of the scientific method and basic chemistry, they created a model of their experimental setup, explained the procedure in detailed steps, followed procedures to conduct the experiment and collected data using the data table they produced. At the conclusion of the activity, the students analyzed their data to determine if Lactaid pills really contain lactase and wrote a scientific explanation.

“We are covering the importance of proteins, their diversity and many functions,” Parikka said. “One of the most important forms of proteins are enzymes. These are molecules that can break down or build up other molecules. For example, lactase, the enzyme, can break down lactose, the complex sugar substrate. Those that are lactose intolerant do not have the enzyme lactase.”

Based on their collected result, Parikka said, the students understood that Lactaid contains the enzyme lactase and they used evidence to support their claim.