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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 20 (2015) pp 194-195

A Simple Introduction to Enzymes

Michele R. Harris*

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas 75962,
Received March 17, 2015. Accepted August 5, 2015.

Published: 18 August 2015

Abstract. The purpose of this laboratory exercise to provide non-science majors a single two-hour laboratory that introduces enzymes and their dependence on pH and temperature. Small slices of freshly cut potatoes are added to mixtures of Flynn colored buffer and over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide that have been equilibrated at various temperatures. As the catalase in the potato decomposes the hydrogen peroxide, the O2 gas production causes foam to form on top of the mixture. The height of the foam is proportional to the activity of the enzyme. Students measure the height of the foam at various pH and temperatures and then plot and analyze the data to determine the condition for maximum activity of the catalase.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; non-science major laboratory; enzyme activity; catalase; buffers; pH

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (108 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

A Simple Introduction to Enzymes handout out for students (38 KB).

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