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A Scientific Investigation – What types of food contain starch and protein?

Starch molecule

In the first part of this activity, students use basic information about the structure, functions, and synthesis of starch and proteins to understand why certain parts of plants or animals contain starch and/or proteins.

Then, students practice the scientific method by carrying out key components of a scientific investigation, including generating hypotheses, developing experimental methods, designing and carrying out experiments to test their hypotheses, and, if needed, using experimental results to revise their hypotheses. (NGSS)

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Download Teacher Preparation Notes: PDF format or Word format

We invite comments on this NGSS-aligned hands-on activity, including suggestions for other teachers who are planning to use the activity and any questions you have. If you would prefer to send your comments or questions in a private message, please write Ingrid Waldron at 


iwaldron's picture

2021 revision

The Student Handout has been revised to improve clarity and has been enhanced with additional explanatory figures. Also, I have added explanations and questions to help students understand how starch and/or protein in seeds, milk, or muscle were useful for the plant or animal from which the food was derived.
Ingrid Waldron

Rebecca Rebecca's picture


Hello This worksheet is not downloadable 2021 revision.

iwaldron's picture

Student Handout

I am confused by your comment, since I just tried and did not have any trouble downloading either the Word version or the PDF of the Student Handout. Please try again and then let us know more specifically what problem you are experiencing.


Emily Tischer's picture

answer key?

I was wondering if there was an answer key anywhere? In particular, we wanted to know the precise answer for the characteristics of the organic compounds. Thank you!

iwaldron's picture

Answer key

Please see the Teacher Preparation Notes for instructional suggestions, biology background, and information about how to request a key.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Thank you!

I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate your resources; I am going to attempt using your Starch/Protein experiment as part of a unit on the nature of science for our GED Distance Learning Program in South Dakota. Most GED teachers teach every part of the high school curriculum, so having high quality resources would be impossible without the help of folks like you. Thanks!

David Chukwuemeka's picture

Education; Biology

Very Good Work, Deep And Incisive

iwaldron's picture

September 2016 Revision

The Student Handout has been revised for greater clarity, including improved experimental procedures to increase the reliability of the results. In the Teacher Preparation Notes, we have improved the instructional suggestions and the description of needed supplies.

iwaldron's picture

2016 revision

This revised activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Student Handout includes a new section that introduces students to the structure and functions of starch and proteins and the use of glucose for the synthesis of other organic molecules. In the second and third sections, students learn about scientific investigation by carrying out key components of the scientific method.

iwaldron's picture

2013 revision

This activity has been renamed "A Scientific Investigation – What types of food contain starch and protein?" to clarify the purpose of this activity, which is designed to enhance student understanding of the scientific method. Students carry out key components of a scientific investigation, including developing experimental methods, generating hypotheses, designing and carrying out experiments to test these hypotheses and, if appropriate, using experimental results to revise the hypotheses. The questions and logic have been clarified in the revised Student Handout. Additional suggestions for class discussion and links to other resources for teaching about the scientific method have been included in the revised Teacher Preparation Notes.

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