Starch Breakdown

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Learners use Benedict’s solution and heat to test for the presence of simple sugars in glucose, sucrose, starch, and starch combined with amylase. They find simple sugars only in the glucose and in the starch with amylase solution. Learners discover the difference in structure between three different sugar molecules: glucose, sucrose, and starch. They observe that amylase, an enzyme in saliva, can break the bonded molecules in starch into separate glucose molecules. In the body, amylase breaks down starches to make them easier to digest. This activity is currently used in the Biochemistry Unit in OMSI's Chemistry Lab. Cost estimates are per 100 learners. For safety reasons, adult supervision is recommended with use of the hot plate; this activity works best as a demonstration for younger audiences.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 11 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Benedict’s solution (keep at least 100 ml on hand; instructions included)
  • Soluble starch (keep 50 g on hand)
  • Dextrose (keep 25 g on hand)
  • Sucrose (keep 25 g on hand)
  • Dry fungal amylase (keep 10 g on hand)
  • Four small test tubes
  • One test-tube rack
  • One 250-ml glass beaker
  • One 100-ml beaker
  • One thin test-tube brush
  • Five 30-ml dropper bottles
  • One hot plate
  • One clock
  • A Plexiglas shield for the hot plate
  • Three plastic bottles, 250- to 500-ml size


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Digestion
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • 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 Source:

  • National Science Foundation