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In this lesson, students compare the mechanisms (i.e., active and passive transport) that transport materials across the plasma membrane. Students will:

  • Differentiate between active transport and passive transport.
  • Compare the mechanisms of passive transport (i.e., diffusion, osmosis, facilitated diffusion) and active transport (i.e., pumps, endocytosis, and exocytosis).
  • Describe the role of ATP in active transport mechanisms.

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  • Active Transport: Process that moves materials across the plasma membrane against a concentration gradient; requires energy.
  • Carrier Protein: Protein that transports materials into or out of the cell in active transport.
  • Concentration Gradient: When a solute in a cell is in high concentration on one side of a membrane compared to the other.
  • Diffusion: The movement of molecules across a membrane, with a net movement from high to low concentration.
  • Endocyctosis: When a cell actively takes material into itself by folding the plasma membrane inward, forming a vesicle.
  • Exocytosis: When a cell actively releases material by folding the plasma membrane outward, forming a vesicle.
  • Facilitated Diffusion: Passive movement of molecules across a plasma membrane through protein channels.
  • Fluid Mosaic Model: Model of the plasma membrane in which proteins are embedded in phospholipids.
  • Isotonic: Two solutions have equal concentrations of solutes.
  • Homeostasis: The process by which organisms maintain a stable internal environment.
  • Hypertonic: (hyper = above) When comparing two solutions, the solution with a greater concentration of solute.
  • Hypotonic: (hypo = under) When comparing two solutions, the solution with a lesser concentration of solute.
  • Osmosis: Diffusion of water through a selectively permeable membrane from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.
  • Passive Transport: Process that moves solutes down their concentration gradient across the plasma membrane; does not require energy.
  • Selective Permeability: Property of biological membranes that allows only certain substances to pass through them; the cell membrane and the membranes of organelles are selectively permeable.
  • Vesicles: Small membrane-bound spaces in the plasma membrane that transport macromolecules into and out of the cell.


90 minutes/2 class periods

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