Mighty Mitochondria (Bio Mini-project)

Electron micrograph of a mitochondrion. Note the DNA within the mitochondrial matrix and the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) nearby.

Read this article: The Science of Bonking

Mini-project: Mighty mitochondria, or how I learned to stop worrying and go without oxygen.

Driving Question: Can you test the limits of cellular respiration?

Mr. Le’s Example Data Link

Period 1 spreadsheet  Period 2 Spreadsheet  Period 4 spreadsheet  Period 6 spreadsheet


  1. Read the “The Science Behind Bonking” from Runner’s World
  2. Design two NEW exercises that can be easily measured or counted
    1. Exercise 1: Aerobic
    2. Exercise 2: Anaerobic
  3. Create detailed explanations of how to do each exercise, including pictures on the shared google spreadsheet
  4. Conduct a series of trials for each exercise on multiple test subjects
    1. Record and share the data using a clear, organized data table
    2. Transfer your data to the shared google spreadsheet
    3. Create at least two graphs on the shared google spreadsheet using your data
  5. Analyze your data and write a conclusion paragraph discussing how your exercise compared and contrasted the energetics of aerobic and anaerobic activities.
  6. The group with the data showing the most distinct difference in test subject performance between aerobic and anaerobic exercises will present their findings to the Sports Medicine class and receive an “A” for the project.

Clarifications, tips, and other details:

  • You can have a group of any size, but for each group member you must complete more experimental trials and use more test subjects.
    • H = # honors students, E = # enriched students
    • Minimum number of test subjects used = 2H + E
    • Minimum number of experimental trials per exercise = 1 + H
    • Example: My group has 2 honors and 2 enriched students. We need to use at least 2(2)+2=6 different people in our experiments. We also must run at least 1+2=3 experimental trials for each test subject.
  • In designing your exercises consider:
    • What is the exact form required to accomplish the exercise correctly?
    • Will this exercise produce an activity pattern that matches the predicted type of cellular respiration?
  • In designing your experiment be thoughtful and intentional in defining:
    • The length of each trial
    • How each repetition will be measured throughout the trial
    • How accuracy and precision will be ensured throughout data collection
  • Rough Timeline:
    • One day to intro project
    • 1 day for planning and design: create your exercise and design experimental trials
    • 1 day for data collection
    • 72 hours later: Everything is finished

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