Endocytosis Activity

Author(s): Octavian Horia Minda


Students try to figure out how to put Hershey candies into a paper bag without exposing the inside of the bag.

SubjectGreen Biotechnology 
TopicEndocytosis Activity
Age of students11-18
Preparation time30 Minutes
Teaching time60 Minutes
Online teaching material (links for online material)
Offline teaching materialPaper lunch bags – for every student10 cm of string – for every studentHershey Kisses or other items acting as food – for every studentScissors – for every student

Aim of the lesson

By the end of this lesson students will: 

  • 1) Students will be able to demonstrate how cells perform endocytosis, called phagocytosis.


Describe here in detail all the activities during the lesson and the time they require. Remember, that your lesson plan needs to revolve around the topic of bioeconomy.

Name of activityProcedureTime
Give each student the supplies. Let students share if there are not enough scissors.X min
Tell the students they are to pretend that the bag is like a cell. The paper part of the bag is like the cell membrane and the air inside the bag is like the cytoplasm. The cell needs to eat a large molecule, like a protein or a starch.Xmin
The students need to figure out how to get the large molecules into the bag with out exposing the inside of the bag to the air. Students cannot put the molecules through the top of the bag but can stick their hand in through the top.X min
Remind students that they will need to use all the supplies given and that they are performing endocytosis, not exocytosisXmin
Students push the candy into the side of the bag without causing a hole. They put their hand through the top of the bag and twist the candy. They tie a knot around the twisted bag between the candy and the rest of the bag. Now they cut off the candy with the bag. The cut bag around the candy is now acting as a vesicle. The cell membrane/bag was never exposed to the outside because it was tied off inside the bag.Xmin
Students may attempt to punch a hole through the bag, turn the bag inside out, etc. This is a great time to remind students that the inside of the cell may never be exposed to the outside. Let students try to figure out the activity on their own for at least 5 minutes without hints. Give students a new bag if they end up creating a hole in the bagXmin
If no one has figured it out after 5 minutes, give a demonstration hint by holding one hand in the bag, while the other hand pushes the chocolate into the side of the bag. Wait another 3 minutes and then give the students the hint that the string and the scissors must be used inside the bag. Once one student has figured out the answer they show you their results and not tell any other students. The goal is for students to figure this out by themselves. Once a student has finished, they can eat their food molecule.


Performance of the activity.

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