# Why are cells small? (activity)

Contents

## Why are cells so small?

1. Take 3 blocks of agar of different size (1cm, 2cm, 3cm) â†’ these are our cell models
2. Measure the length, width and height of each cube using a ruler
3. Calculate the area of each face of the cubes and add all the areas together for a single cube
• a cube has 6 faces â†’ the total surface area is the same as the area of one side multiplied by 6
1. Calculate the volume of each cube
2. Report the surface area-to-volume in the table below

Data Table: Calculating Surface Area-to-Volume Ratio

 Cell Model (cube) Length Width Height Total Surface Area Volume of cell Surface Area: Volume 1 2 3

## Stop and think:

• Which cube has the greatest surface area:volume ratio?
• Which cube has the smallest surface area:volume ratio?
• Hypothesize: In an osmosis or diffusion experiment, which cube size would have the greatest diffusion rate?

## Procedures:

1. Each group will cut three agarÂ cubes: A 3cm cube, a 2cm cube, and a 1cm cube. CUT AS ACCURATELY AS POSSIBLE. (This may be already completedÂ for you.)
2. Pour 200mL of 0.1M NaOHÂ into your plastic cup.
3. Immerse your 3 cubes in the NaOH, noting the time.
4. Let the cubes soak for approximatelyÂ 10 minutes.
5. Periodically, gently stir theÂ solution, or turn the cubes over.
6. After 10 minutes, remove theÂ diffusion solution
7. Blot the cubes with a paper towel.
8. Promptly cut each cube in half andÂ measure the depth to which the pink color has penetrated. Sketch eachÂ blockâ€™s cross-section.
9. Record the volume that has remained white in color.
10. Do the following calculations forÂ each cube and complete the following data table:

Data Table: CalculationÂ of Diffusion Area-to-Volume

 Cube Size Cube volume (cm3) Vtotal VolumeÂ white (cm3) Vwhite Sketch of each Cube Volume of the diffused cube ( Vtotal â€“ white) Vdiffused Percent Diffusion (Vdiffused/Vtotal) Surface Area: Volume (from previous table) 1cm 2cm 3cm

## Conclude:

• Which cube had the greatest percentage of diffusion?