Using Bubbles to Explore Membranes

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In this activity, learners use bubbles to investigate the structure and unique properties of cell membranes. Bubbles serve as macroscopic models that mimic the cells' phospholipid bilayers. Learners also use the bubbles to form prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells. This inquiry type lab can be done as a group or cooperative learning experience. Materials listed are designed for a group of 30 learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Overhead projector
  • Three dozen all wooden clothespins with round heads
  • Thirty pennies
  • Ball of cotton string
  • 15 pairs of scissors
  • Fifteen cafeteria trays
  • Thirty straws
  • A ten inch piece of aluminum wire
  • Pencils
  • Old newspapers
  • Bubble solution made from 10 parts water mixed with 1 part liquid Joy and about one tablespoon of Karo syrup per gallon of solution


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Wardell, Sandra