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Lesson Plans

Grade Level: 9-12
Subject: Science (Biology)
Time Allotment: two to three 45-minute class periods

Students investigate just what lives in a drop of water, appreciating how much life a single water drop can support and how the population can vary depending on whether the drop is from a freshwater lake or a pond, bottled water, or from the tap. Students use microscopes to observe single-cell organisms in water samples and draw conclusions about diseases and water filtration.


Students will be able to:
  • Describe and compare the characteristics of living things

  • Observe single-cell organisms using a microscope

  • Analyze the differences between protozoa

  • Summarize research discoveries through writing

  • Compare living organisms in two test samples


  • Samples of tap water for each lab group (pairs of students)

  • Sample of a second type of water: pond, lake, river, ditch, or bottled for each lab group (water can be obtained through a class trip to the water source or teacher can collect the sample prior to the lesson)

  • 4 slides per lab group

  • 4 cover slips per lab group

  • 2 eye droppers to place water sample on slide

  • microscopes (preferred: one for each pair of students)

  • paper towels for clean up

  • Optional: diagrams of the four single-cell organisms with labels
    Diagrams can be found on various online sites such as and


  • Jefferson Lab
    Search this site for hands-on activities, games, and reference materials in math and science.

  • The Science Spot
    This site provides lesson plans, project ideas, trivia questions, games, and references for all science topics.

  • CELLS alive
    This site contains film and computer-enhanced images of living cells and organisms. This is also a stock video library with live recording and computer animation of cells, bacteria, parasites, and aquatic organisms.

  • American Institute of Biological Sciences
    This educational website has articles by scientists, educators, and students on issues relating to biodiversity. The site also includes lesson plans, and resources to boost bioscience teaching.

  • National Science Foundation
    Search this site for education resources and the most recent information on research and scientific grants.

  • Fun Science Gallery: Protist Park
    Use this site for an overview of protists through stories, microscopic images, and movies.


  • Science, Standard 5, Level IV
    Understands the structure and function of cells and organisms

  • Science, Standard 6, Level IV
    Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment

  • Science, Standard 7, Level IV
    Understands biological evolution and the diversity of life

  • Science, Standard 12, Level IV
    Understands the nature of scientific inquiry

  • Thinking and Reasoning, Standard 3, Level IV
    Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences

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