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All molecules have kinetic energy and are constantly in motion1. This motion causes the
molecules to bump into each other and move in different directions. The results are two passive
transport movements that deal with the cell membrane: diffusion and osmosis. Diffusion is where
the solutes move from an area of high concentration to a low concentration. Water also goes
through the cell membrane by diffusion2. Osmosis is specifically the movement of water through
membranes. Since osmosis and diffusion are both part of passive transport, this means that they
do not require energy or pumps. Because of this, there are different environments created due to
diffusion. They are the hypotonic, hypertonic, and isotonic environments. Hypotonic is when the
solution has a lower solute concentration compared to the water potential. The hypertonic
solution, however, has a higher solute concentration and lower water potential. In an isotonic
solution, there is no net movement and there is an equal concentration of solutes and water.
In our lab, we modeled diffusion and osmosis with an interesting scenario. It is important
for a solution to have salts in it so the water and solute can be equal to create an isotonic
environment. However, if there was nothing, it would either be a hypotonic causing the cell to
expand and burst or it would be hypertonic causing the cell to shrink. We can create models of
living cells by using dialysis tubing. The dialysis tube represents a cell membrane, which will act
as being selectively permeable to water and some solutes. We will observe the solutes sodium
chloride, ovalbumin, glucose, sucrose, and water in the dialysis tubing. The purpose of this
experiment is to figure out the type of environment the solutes would create with the water and
whether the water would diffuse in or out of the cell, or in this case the tubing. My hypothesis

1 http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Physical_Chemistry/Thermodynamics/State_Functions/Kinetic_Energy
2 http://www.biologycorner.com/bio1/notes_diffusion.html

states that all of the tubes will be in a hypotonic environment after several minutes or hours
because there will be a higher concentration of water outside of each tubing. The water will
diffuse inside the cell; therefore the cell will gain weight. We took the initial weight of each tube
with the solute inside, the final weight, and then after that, we took the percent change in weight.
The control of the experiment was the beaker where there was water inside and outside of the
For the second part of the experiment, we were to use potatoes to observe them in
different liquid substances. The purpose was to identify concentrations of sucrose solutions that
we were given. We were to find what solution was closest to being isotonic in order to identify
which of them was water. There were six different solutions that we observed. Each solution was
in a red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple color. A tubular slice of potato was to be placed
in each of the solutions. My hypothesis states that the potato would remain the same size in the
warm colored solutions because it would have an isotonic environment and, because it is sucrose,
a sugar found in most plants, it would probably be in an equilibrium state. I also believe that if
the potato was placed in a hypotonic environment, then the percent change in mass would be
greater than if placed in a hypertonic environment.

Table 1 Data Results Got From Modeling Diffusion and Osmosis (Part 1)

Initial Weight (g)

Final Weight (g)

Percent Change


11.74 g

12.88 g

9.71039 %


12.37 g

15.05 g

21.665319 %


13.01 g

16.95 g

30.284396 %


11.42 g

12.15 g

6.3922942 %


7.67 g

8.23 g

7.3011734 %

Table 1 represents to the percentage change in each solution. This shows that water diffused in
all of the cells, causing them to be in a hypotonic environment.

Graph 1 - Mass Percent Change in Modeling Diffusion and Osmosis

Graph 1 shows the multiple ranges of percent change from the initial weight of the dialysis
tubes to the final weight. Notice that all of the solutes had increases in mass, meaning that the

tubes were in hypotonic environments.

Table 2 - Data Results Got From Observing Osmosis in Living Cells (Part 2)
Solution Color

Initial Weight (g)

Final Weight (g)

Percent Change


0.741 g

0.957 g

29.149 %


0.725 g

0.634 g

-12.5517 %


0.681 g

0.779 g

14.3906 %


0.718 g

0.611 g

-14.9025 %


0.822 g

0.919 g

11.8004 %


0.974 g

0.978 g

0.41067 %

In Table 2, the solutions in a hypotonic environment were red, yellow, and blue. Those solutions
all had final weights that were greater than initial weights. The orange and green colors both had
final weights that were smaller than their initial weights, which mean they were in a hypertonic
environment. The purple color could have been either in an isotonic or hypotonic environment,
because the initial and final weights were just about the same, but it increased a little bit.
Graph 2 - Mass Percent Change in Observing Osmosis in Living Cells

Graph 2 shows the multiple ranges of percent change from the initial weight of the potatoes to
the final weight. Notice that the green and orange are decreasing, meaning that they are in a

hypertonic environment.
Based on the results I got for the first part, all of the solutes that were in the tubes had increased
by over five percent, with the sucrose having the highest percentage, along with the glucose at
twenty-one percent. The lowest increase was the ovalbumin, which increased above six percent.
The glucose and sucrose increased majorly because their molecules are hydrophilic and were
probably small compared to the other solutes. The ovalbumin probably has larger and more
hydrophobic molecules, meaning that the passive transport was fairly longer in time compared to
the sugars glucose and sucrose. For the second part, there were three colored solutions that
increased, with the red solution having slightly more than twenty-nine percent, yellow with
approximately fourteen percent, and blue with around eleven percent. The red solution had the
highest increase, possibly because the solution was very hypotonic, since the solution gave the
potato more weight than its initial weight. The purple solution did increase, but only a little. This
could mean that the purple solution could have been either an isotonic solution or a hypotonic
solution. The remaining two colors decreased, meaning that the solutions were most likely
hypertonic, because the potato slices had a final weight that was less than the initial weight. The
green solution decreased to over fourteen percent, and the orange solution decreased to about
twelve percent.
My hypothesis for part one, stating that all of the dialysis tubes would be in a hypotonic
environment, was proven to be correct. This is because the tubes were placed in a beaker of
water. Because there was a higher concentration of water than the solute, this will cause the
water to diffuse in the tubing after several days. When water diffuses into a cell, this causes the
cell to be enlarged. My hypothesis for the second part, believing that the potato would remain the
same size in the warm colored solutions, was proven to be wrong because the solutions in all of

the different colors varied in solute added. This shows that the colors had a different environment
in them, with the colors red, yellow, blue, and purple in hypotonic environments, and the colors
orange and green in hypertonic environments. This explains that the colors had nothing to do
with the gain or loss of weight in the potatoes, but the amount of sucrose or other solution used
for them to result in that. Possible errors that my group and I could have made on the
experiments would be tying the dialysis tubes incorrectly, inaccurate measuring when gathering
the solutions, and the potatoes may have been dried up when one of us sliced them and just left
them there instead of putting them in the beakers right away. This experiment relates to the unit
we were on, because by observing the cells, we were able to maintain equilibrium or homeostasis
by testing cells in an isotonic environment, hypertonic environment, or even a hypotonic
environment. We also learned about testing different types of solutes that make a specific cell,
such as a potato slice or a dialysis tubing, gain or lose mass percentage, as well.

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at Chicago. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.
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8. Brundage, Adrienne. "Isotonic Solution."Education Portal. Education Portal. Web. 4 Jan. 2015.