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In this chemistry challenge, learners identify which plants have the enzyme "catalase" that breaks hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. Multiple fruits and vegetables, both raw and cooked (a few seconds in boiling water, or 30 seconds in the microwave) should be available for testing. Preparation time can be shortened by using a food processor. Background information is provided about enzymes (proteins that act as catalysts), and the specific enzyme catalase, which catalyzes hydrogen peroxide. Since heating destroys enzymes, cooked fruits and vegetables have no catalytic activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 5 24 well plates
  • 5 dropping bottles with 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • A variety of cut up fruits and vegetables
  • Choose 4 of these: sweet potato, kiwi fruit, carrot, red pepper, mushroom, watermelon, pineapple, turnip
  • Choose two of these: apples, grapes, zucchini
  • A food processor or grater
  • Plastic plates or 3 ounce cups to hold fruits and vegetables (5 or more)
  • A wash bottle of tap water or a bucket of water for rinsing well plates.
  • Paper towels for spills
  • A safe container to dump solutions into and seal (waste container)


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Sources:

  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
  • American Chemical Society