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My aim for this experiment is to see the results of potato tissue's
mass difference, when placed in different concentrations of sugar
solutions. Also my aim for this experiment is to estimate the
concentration of cell sap within the potato cells.
For this experiment I would expect to have 3 different variables,
Independent, Dependent, and fixed variables, which all help me to plan
and explain the experiment thoroughly.
1. The Independent variable
(These are things you can change in the experiment), the thing that I
will be changing in this investigation into the factors affecting
osmosis, is the concentrations of the solution that helps me to
investigate osmosis with potato tissues. The different sugar
concentrations will be changed to see the result of the potatoes when
placed in sugar solutions placed in different molarities
2. Dependent Variable
(These are things that you measure in your experiment) the things that
I’ll be measuring in this experiment on osmosis are the mass change
and length change of the potatoes placed in different molarities of
sugar solutions. I will record the masses in grams by using a balance
and the length changes by using a ruler. I will be measuring the mass
of the potato chips in my experiment because I want to see the potato
chips mass difference when placed in different concentrations of sugar
3. Fixed Variables
(Things that you keep the same) the things that I have chosen to keep
the same in each individual experiment to keep it a fair test is to
keep the same sizes of each potato tissue the same by using the same
cork borer and a ruler. I will keep the potato chips the same size in
my experiment because by keeping the sizes of the potato chips the
same it ensures that osmosis will occur on the same amount of surface
area of every potato chip, this will allow me to investigate how only
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chips affects the rate of osmosis and therefore the difference in mass
of the potato chips in different concentrations of sugar solution.
From my preliminary experiments I learnt that more osmosis occurs when
there is a larger surface area of potato cells for the sugar solution
to enter the potato chip. I will be keeping the same amount of
solution placed in the test tubes for each different experiment, which
I will measure using a measuring cylinder. I will do this because from
my preliminary experiments I learnt that the amount of solution
surrounding the potato chips affects the amount of osmosis that takes
place. I will also be keeping the same potato through out the whole
experiment because if you use a different potato than you might have
variable results as some might have more water in them than others. In
my experiment I will be keeping the temperature throughout my
experiment. I will do this because the higher the temperature of
solution outside the potato chip, the more osmosis that takes place.
Keeping all these variables the same allows me to investigate how only
one factor (the concentrations of sugar solution) affects osmosis in
the potato cells.
Background information/Scientific explanation of what would happen:
Osmosis is defined as the movement of water molecules from an area of
high water concentration to an area of low water concentration, across
a semi-permeable membrane. In a high concentration of water the amount
of solute (e.g. sugar) is low. This could be called a weak or dilute
In a low concentration of water the amount of solute (e.g. sugar) is
high. This could be called a strong or concentrated solution.
When two such solutions are divided by a semi-permeable membrane the
water will move from the area of high concentration to the area of low
concentration, until both sides are equal (have reached equilibrium).
This can be seen in living cells. The cell membrane in cells is
semi-permeable and the vacuole contains a sugar/salt solution. So when
a cell is placed in distilled water (high water concentration) water
will move across the semi-permeable membrane into the cell (lower
water concentration) by osmosis, making the cell swell. This cell is
now referred to as turgid. If this is done with potato cells the cells
would increase in length volume and mass because of the extra water.
If a plant cell is surrounded by water of a solution more dilute than
its contents, water will pass into the vacuole by osmosis. The vacuole
will expand and press outwards on the cytoplasm and cell wall. The
cell wall of a mature plant cell cannot be stretched, so there comes a
time when the inflow of water is resisted by the un-stretchable cell
wall. A plant cell with the vacuole pressing out on the cell wall is
said to be turgid and the vacuole is exerting turgor pressure on the
cell wall. If the vacuole looses water for any reason, the cell will
loose its turgor and become flaccid.
If these potato cells were placed in a solution with a low water
concentration, then the opposite would happen. Water would move out of
the cell into the solution. In extreme cases the cell membrane breaks
away from the cell wall and the cell is referred to as plasmolysed.
The potato cells will have decreased in length, volume and mass.
The greater the concentration of water in the external solution, the
greater the amount of water that enters the cell by osmosis. The
smaller the concentration of water in the external solution, the
greater the amount of water that leaves the cell.
However, there will be a point where the concentrations of water
inside and outside the potato cells are equalled (isotonic). At this
point there will be no change in the length, volume and mass of the
potato, as the net movement of water will be zero, no osmosis has
For my preliminary work I did two main experiments to help me with my
My first experiment was to see what would be the best size of potato
chips to use for my experiment. The best potato chip size would be the
size that allows the most osmosis to occur through its cell membranes.
In the case of my experiment the potato chips which experienced the
most percentage change in weight from the start till the finish off my
experiment is the potato chip which has had the most osmosis occurring
in it. For this experiment I kept the concentration of the sugar
solution at the same concentration for all the different sizes of the
potato chip to make it a fair test. I placed five potato chips all of
different sizes in five test tubes all having the same concentration.
After twenty minutes I weighed the potato chips to see the change in
weight to see how much osmosis occurred. I found out from this
experiment that osmosis occurs more in the potato chips which are
bigger in size. This is because the transfer of water molecules can be
quicker and more transfer can occur if the chip has a larger surface
Chip Length (cm)
Mass Start (g)
Mass Finish (g)
Mass Difference (g)
My second experiment was to see how time affects the amount of osmosis
in potato cells. For my actual experiment I would need a sensible time
(less than one hour) to see the process of osmosis happening clearly
and accurately in the potato cells and the sugar solution. For this
experiment I kept the amount of sugar concentration of the solution
the same in all five test tubes. I also used potato chips of
approximately the same size and weight. I investigated how much
osmosis happened in five different amounts of times. For example, in
the first test tube I took the chip out of the test tube after 5
minutes. I found out that the chip hadn’t changed much in weight after
5 minutes so that meant that not much osmosis occurred in that short
period of time. In my fifth test tube I took the chip out of the test
tube after 25 minutes. This time I found out that the chip had changed
quite considerably in that time period. I thought 25 minutes would
therefore be a sensible time to leave the chips in the test tubes for
my actual experiment because you can clearly record a change in weight
of the chips. I think more osmosis occurs if you leave the chip in the
sugar solution for a longer time because this gives more time for more
water molecules to diffuse into or out of the potato cells.
Table of results:
Time in Solution (minutes)
Mass Start (g)
Mass Finish (g)
Change in Mass (g)
To summarise my preliminary experiments, I found out two ways of how
to increase the amount of osmosis in the potato cells, bigger sized
chips with a larger surface area and leaving the chips in the sugar
solution for a longer period of time.
Osmosis is the passage of water molecules from a solution with a high
water gradient into a solution with a low water gradient, through a
partially permeable membrane. In this case, the tiny holes in the
membrane of the potatoes will allow the water molecules to pass
through in and out of the solution and the potato, depending on the
concentration gradient of the two substances. So in this case, when
the water concentration is lower in the tissue, the water will go
inside the tissue of the potato, and the potato will gain mass. If
there is very little difference in the two water concentrations, there
shouldn't be such a big change in mass. Also if there is a higher
concentration of water in the potato, then the water will go out of
the potato and into the liquid solution, as osmosis is the movement of
water molecules from a region of high water gradient to a region of
low water gradient, through a partially permeable membrane.
The potato, cut up into pieces, will need some sort of element to
survive, and in this experiment, it would be light and water. With
both of these sources, the potato will keep on working until it dies
of either lack of water or too much water, or will stop, as both sides
would become equal, making no more reactions. When the concentration
gradient is lower in the potato, the water will transfer from the
solution into the potato.
In the distilled water, I believe that the water is more concentrated
in the potato, and therefore the water should transfer from the water
to the potato, making the potato bigger in size, and heavier in
weight. The potato tissues, being surrounded by a weak solution, will
be most likely to swell up and become turgid, taking in all the water
it can possibly take in.
Below is a list of the apparatus I need to do my whole experiment. The
apparatus below are needed to get one set of results.
· Two or three Potatoes
· 60ml of Standard sugar solution (one molar)
· Wash bottles
· 5 Test-tubes
· 1 test tube rack (5 test tube holders in each one)
· Cork borer
· Weight measurer
· Wooden board
· 60ml of Water
· 2 measured beakers
· 2 6ml measured out syringe
· 1 stopwatch
· Tissue Paper
In this experiment on osmosis there should only be two changing
1: Different molarities of sugar solution,
2: Change in mass of the potato samples.
To keep these two variables the only variables in the experiment I
1: Keep the potato samples the same length (5cm). This is because if
one potato sample is 1cm long and one is 3cm long then the 3cm long
sample will have a larger surface area and will osmosis much more
2: Use the same potato. This is because many factors due to the potato
may affect the experiment. For example the age and sizes might be
different, which means one potato might have more water in them then
4: Accurate amount of sugar solution: More Bathing solution may affect
the rate of solution. To make the amount of solution placed in the
test tube as accurate as possible a syringe will be used to measure
out the exact amount needed.
5: Contamination: As each test tube is filled up with the different
molar solutions the syringe which would measure the amount of solution
placed in the test tube may become contaminated with different
molarities. To stop his from happening, the beaker and syringe must be
washed every time they are used.
6: Average: To make the experiment as accurate as possible an average
will be taken out of the 3 sets of results taken.
7: Temperature: The temperature may affect the reliability of the
experiment for example at extreme temperatures the cells of the potato
may die and at less extreme temperatures the experiment may be speeded
up. To keep this from happening, all the test tubes will be kept in
the same place and at the same time of the experiment.
Health and Safety
Safety is an important aspect in every experiment, even if the
experiment seems to be very harmless. This is why I'll be taking this
I will be using a very sharp knife, which could injure someone if it's
not handled properly. I will also be very careful that the solutions
don't get into our bodies internally, just in case, because we are not
fully aware of the damage it could do to us. I will also be wearing an
apron due to any solutions getting to my clothes.
But other than that, there weren't any bigger matters to be cautious
1) Collect all the apparatus that is needed for this experiment.
2) Make the concentration sugar solutions that you need for the
experiment. Investigate what happens to the potato chips in five
different concentrations of the solution. Measure how much solution
you will put in the test tubes by using syringes. Use two syringes,
one of the syringes would be used to put water in the test tubes, and
the other syringe will be used to put one molar sugar in the test
tubes. Each of the syringes can hold up to 6ml of liquid. Each part
represents 6ml of liquid. In the first test tube don’t put any sugar
solution in; instead put four parts of water. In the second tube put
one part sugar solution in and put three parts water in. In the third
test tube put two parts sugar solution in and put two parts water in.
In the fourth test tube put 3 parts sugar solution in and put one part
water in. In the fifth test tube put 4 parts sugar solution in and put
no water in.
3) Label what concentration of molar sugar solution the test tubes
have in them. For example if a test tube has two parts sugar solution
in it and 2 parts water in it, its sugar molar concentration would be
0.5. Leave the test tubes in the test tube racks for now.
4) Using the cork borer take 5 pieces of potato from the potatoes.
5) Place the potato pieces on the wooden chopping board and cut the
ends of the five pieces of potato so they are roughly the same size.
6) Number the potato pieces one to five, you can do this by putting
each potato chip next to a test tube in order of concentrations.
7) Dry the surface of the potato pieces using tissue paper before you
weigh the potato pieces.
8) Weigh each of the potato pieces and record the weight of them.
9) Place each of the 5 potato pieces into each of the five test tubes.
Put all the potato pieces in the test tubes at roughly the same time.
Start the stop watch as soon as the potato pieces are inside the test
10)Wait for twenty minutes.
11)When the stop watch reads twenty minutes take out the potato pieces
from the solutions in the test tubes and place each of the potato
chips on separate tissue papers so they can dry and you still can
identify which potato piece has been in which test tube.
12)When the potato pieces are dry measure each of the potato piece’s
weight. Record the weight of the pieces next to the ones at the start
of the experiment.
Repeat this experiment at least twice so you can get a set of three
results to make sure the experiment is accurate.
For my whole experiment I have a set of three results. I did this to
check if my results were accurate and reliable.
Results from first Experiment:
Weight Before (g)
Weight After (g)
Percentage change %
Results from second experiment:
Weight Before (g)
Weight After (g)
Percentage change %
Results form third experiment:
Weight Before (g)
Weight After (g)
Percentage change %
Average results from all three experiments:
Percentage change %
From my experiment I found out that as you increase the concentration
of molar sugar solution you decrease the mass of the potato chips.
When the potato chips were placed in distilled water (0 molar sugar
solution) the mass of the potato chips increased. My results support
the prediction that I made before the experiment. My prediction stated
that when the water gradient is lower in the potato chips, the water
will go into the potato chip and therefore potato chip will gain mass.
My results show that this prediction is correct because when the
potato chips were placed in distilled water (0 molar sugar solution)
the mass of the potato chips increased. My prediction also stated
that when there is a higher water gradient in the potato chip, the
water will go out of the potato chip and into the liquid solution
surrounding the potato chip. My results show that this prediction is
also correct because when the potato chips were placed in sugar
solutions with 0.25-1 molarities the potato chips lost weight. My
prediction was all based on the meaning and concept of osmosis,
osmosis occurred in the experiment because the potato chips and the
different molar sugar solutions surrounding the potato chips were all
of different water gradients to each other. As osmosis is the movement
of water molecules from a region of high water gradient to a region of
low water gradient, through a partially permeable membrane (in my
experiment the membrane of the potato chips) the potato chips in
different concentrations of sugar solutions either gained weight or
What happened in my experiment and why it happened?
After doing my experiment I think it was successful and went according
to my method. I think my experiment was successful because of many
reasons. Firstly, it was successful because my results were very
accurate. In my whole experiment I took three sets of results and then
worked out an average result. My results from the three experiments I
did were fairly similar. The results were recorded in two decimal
places to give it more accuracy. Secondly, I think that my experiment
was good because my experiment went according to what my method said.
My method was very easy and simple to follow, it was also good because
it made me aware of safety precautions I should take whilst doing the
experiment. Thirdly, I think that my experiment was good because the
results I obtained from my experiment supported and proved that the
prediction I made earlier of the outcome of the experiment was
correct. My prediction was based on scientific knowledge and the
results of my experiment agreed with it. I also think that my
experiment was good because there were hardly any anomalous results,
my graphs showed a few but not many to suggest my experiment was
I think the method I used was good. It was easy and simple to follow.
It was successful because it got me a good range of accurate results.
I also think my method was good because it directed me for useful
safety precautions I should take to prevent myself from harm whilst
doing my experiment.
From the results I obtained from each experiment I presented the
results in a results table. From the three sets of results I worked
out an average set of results and presented it in a table. For each of
the results table I interpreted the information in them into a graph
for each set of result. By drawing a curved line of best fit on these
graphs, I recognised some anomalous results.