Enzymes teaching resources
Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about enzymes (GCSE and Key Stage 3)
Where to start?
The decomposition of hydrogen peroxide is a great place to begin thinking about enzymes. The decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen will happen spontaneously, but the addition of a catalyst e.g. catalase will speed this reaction up. Don’t believe me?! Then have a go at the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide demonstration using MnO2 (a chemical catalyst) and a piece of liver (containing catalase, a biological catalyst). Heat the liver and it no longer works. This will then begin an exploration of denaturation.
Modelling enzyme action
One of the best ways to help students understand enzyme action is to build Plasticine models of enzymes breaking down (or building up) substrate molecules. Students can modify the models to show denaturation and the effects of temperature, inhibitors and pH. Make sure you stress the different effects of temperature – denaturation versus collision theory. If possible, ask students to film their models and add annotations to help them consider the dynamic nature of enzyme action.
What do enzymes look like?
The Protein Data Bank provides some beautiful structures of enzymes.
Factors that affect enzyme action
GCSE activity for students to apply their knowledge of enzymes. Students work in pairs to apply their understanding of factors that affect enzymes. They will need to consider pH, temperature and enzyme specificity. This activity assesses and consolidates learning by asking students to apply their knowledge to novel situations. (PDF)
- What does lemon juice, snake venom and cyanide have in common?
- Why can you make pineapple jelly from tinned pineapple but not fresh pineapple?
- When we cool an enzyme reaction the rate of reaction decreases. Do enzymes denature at low temperatures?
- How does decreasing the pH cause denaturation?
- Why do you die of heat stroke?