The Journal of Chemical Education published a science experiment proposed by Assistant Professor Monika Sommerhalter in collaboration with six Cal State East Bay graduate and undergraduate biochemistry students.
Their science experiment on “Biocatalysis with Sol-Gel Encapsulated Acid Phosphatase” was designed for upper level undergraduate biochemistry students. In the experiment the enzyme wheat germ acid phosphatase (APase) was mixed with an acidic, sonicated solution containing tetramethoxysilane. This mixture formed a transparent, solidified gel that was cast into small beads. The enzyme APase was thereby immobilized inside the sol-gel beads. Students critically assessed the success of their experiment by investigating the catalytic performance, the enzyme retention, and the reuse capability of the immobilized APase. An important goal of this experiment was to stimulate students' reflection on the advantages and disadvantages of particular enzyme immobilization strategies. The examination of students' laboratory reports demonstrated that 8 out of 10 students wrote engaged, well-balanced, and thoughtful discussions on this topic.