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Are you looking for a fun, engaging lab for Cell Transport that doesn’t require a lot of materials? This Cell Transport Osmosis Lab is just what you’re looking for!

Using red (purple) onion skin, saltwater, and distilled water, your students will be able to observe osmosis in real-time. They’ll get to see firsthand how a cell’s environment has a direct impact on the cytoplasm, and therefore the cell itself.


What will your students do?

  • prepare wet mount slides of red onion skin
  • observe the cells in isotonic, hypertonic, hypotonic conditions by changing the solution on the slide
  • make drawings of their observations
  • make predictions about the effects of the solutions on the cells
  • answer analysis questions for conceptual understanding and real-world applications
  • do practice questions

Materials needed:

  • microscopes
  • blank slides/coverslips
  • red onion
  • tap water, saltwater, and distilled water
  • forceps, paper towels

This lab can be used in a unit on Cell Transport, Cell Processes, or the Properties of Water. It can also be done as a demonstration by setting up microscopes with pre-made slides.


This is a fun lab that students are usually very engaged in.


Looking for other Cell Transport Resources?


Osmosis Cell Transport Drawing Practice

Cell Transport Powerpoint and Student Notes


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