Watch an Enzyme Work: Activity

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Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in living organisms.

What does catalyze mean?

When an enzyme catalyzes a chemical reaction it speeds the reaction up so that it happens in a reasonable amount of time, and the enzyme itself is not changed.

Chemical reactions happen inside us?

Yes! One example is your digestion. Many of the processes involved in breaking down the food you eat so that your body can use it are chemical reactions.

How can we see an enzyme do its work?

One class of enzymes is the proteases. The name protease means that these enzymes break down proteins into the protein building blocks that are called amino acids.
Jell-Od is mostly a protein called gelatin. The rest is sugars, flavors and coloring. Some fruits contain proteases. When the fruit is added to the set Jell-Od, we can observe the effects of the proteases on gelatin.

What will we need?

Jell-Od or another gelatin product
Small cups for the Jell-O
Hot water
A refrigerator
A hot plate or other methods to boil some fruit
Several kinds of fresh fruit cut int 1′ pieces
Canned fruit of the same kinds as the fresh

What do we do?

  1. Prepare the Jell-Od according to the package directions. Pour it into the small cups to a depth of about 2 inches. Each person or group will need 1 cup of Jell-Odfor a control (nothing done to it) and 1 cup for each different fruit or treatment of the fruit that they want to try.
  2. Record your observations about the appearance of the Jell-Od in the results table below.
  3. Pick 2-3 different kinds of fruit that you want to investigate. For each type, prepare some fresh at different temperatures (refrigerated, room temperature, boiled and boiled but re-cooled to room temperature) and then do the same for the canned fruit.
  4. Place one small piece of each fruit preparation into its own Jell-Od cup. Leave one alone as a control. The piece of fruit should not be dripping juice, but it should not be dried out either.
  5. Allow the cups to sit for 30 minutes, and record your observations in the results table.
Fruit Type and Treatment Initial Observations(fruit and Jell-Od) Final Observations


Which fruits contained proteases? Why?

Did fresh fruit have a different effect than canned?

What effect did boiling and refrigerating have on the results? Why?

Instructors Notes For Watch an Enzyme Work