Clay Enzyme

based on 2 ratings
Author: Danielle Abadam

Grade Level: 3rd - 4th; Type: Life Science


This is a perfect way to teach how enzyme inhibitors, active sites, non-competitive enzyme inhibitors, and substrates work. It is simple and very fun. We will be using clay to model an enzyme and many other enzyme related structures. Be creative!

Research Questions:

  • Why do you think they call it non-competitive and competitive?
  • Why do you think they call it an active site?
  • If you have a pizza and you slice a piece out, which is the substrate, the slice or the pizza?

Certain enzymes work with certain substrates. Both non-competitive and competitive inhibitors act to block substrates from going to the active site. Confused? Let us begin the experiment!


  • Clay or Play Doh (Convenience/ Toy Store)
  • Plastic Knife (Grocery/Convenience Store)

Experimental Procedure:

  1. First of all, you should research what all the terms mean. If you do not understand them you will not be able to do this project easily.
  2. You should be original in your model, but for easier instruction I will be using an example.
  3. Mold a heart out of clay. Cut chunk out of the side of the heart (like taking a bite out of a cookie).
  4. Take the piece you cut off and label it substrate.
  5. What is left of the heart will be the Enzyme and the empty chunk mark is the Active Site.
  6. Now make a Competitive Inhibitor by making something that fits into the empty chunk mark, but looks different from the Substrate.
  7. Now make a Non-Competitive Inhibitor by taking a wad of clay. To show the effect of the Non-Competitive Inhibitor you should smash the wad of clay into the Enzyme, thus changing the shape of the Active Site.

Terms/Concepts: Enzymes; Substrates; Active Site; Non-competitive Inhibitor; Competitive Inhibitor


Enzymes –
Reactants –
Inhibitors –
Add your own comment