Science Project:

Catalase and Hydrogen Peroxide Experiment

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Materials

  • 1 Potato
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Small glass beaker or cup

Procedure

  1. Divide the potato into three roughly equal sections.
  2. Keep one section raw and at room temperature.
  3. Place another section in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Boil the last section for at least 5 minutes.
  5. Chop and mash a small sample (about a tablespoon) of the room temperature potato and place into beaker or cup.
  6. Pour enough hydrogen peroxide into the cup so that potato is submerged and observe.
  7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 with the boiled and frozen potato sections.

Observations & Results

Watch each of the potato/hydrogen peroxide mixtures and record what happens. The bubbling reaction you see is the metabolic process of decomposition, described earlier. This reaction is caused by catalase, an enzyme within the potato. You are observing catalase breaking hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water. Which potato sample decomposed the most hydrogen peroxide? Which one reacted the least?

Why?

You should have noticed that the boiled potato produced little to no bubbles. This is because the heat degraded the catalase enzyme, making it incapable of processing the hydrogen peroxide. The frozen potato should have produced fewer bubbles than the room temperature sample because the cold temperature slowed the catalase enzyme’s ability to decompose the hydrogen peroxide. The room temperature potato produced the most bubbles because catalase works best at a room temperature.

Conclusions

Catalase acts as the catalyzing enzyme in the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. Nearly all living things possess catalase, including us! This enzyme, like many others, aids in the decomposition of one substance into another. Catalase decomposes, or breaks down, hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.

Want to take a closer look? Go further in this experiment by looking at a very small sample of potato combined with hydrogen peroxide under a microscope!

Author: Justine Rembac
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