Spinach Photosynthesis

Project by group othsmikosspring2021

Info

Explore Plants need photosynthesis to grow and survive. Photosynthesis occurs when sunlight hits a plant, allowing a chemical process to take place that creates energy for plants. Some parts of this are confusing, like what elements are also needed for photosynthesis, or how exactly sunlight is used in...
Research Question We want to know what kind of light is needed for plants to photosynthesize other than natural light. We want to test different types of lightbulbs to see which is the most effective. Does changing the lightbulb from which a plant receives light affect the plant's rate of photosynthesis?
Predictions We think the lightbulb with the most wattage will cause the plants to photosynthesize the quickest, since the light is more intense. We don't know yet if there is a certain light level we have to achieve or if we just need a lot of light.
Experimental Design Experimental Design: For our experiment we will need spinach, a syringe, a hole puncher, a marker, a ruler, a lamp, clear cups (one for each lightbulb), and at least 2 different lights/lightbulbs (we planned to use LED, 40w incandescent, 100w incandescent lights; our data uses more types of...
Conclusion Light type does affect a plant's rate of photosynthesis. Our results did not match our predictions since the LED lights underperformed all of the incandescent lights. The 75w lights resulted in the most spinach pieces to float each minute and had the first pieces to begin floating for the...

Updates

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Mika
said

Thank you, Dr. Yaqoob, for working with our group! 

    Amina Yaqoob
    said

    Pleasure working with you all. Hats off to all the team members for finally concluding this project.

Mika
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Mika
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PlantingScience Staff
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Farewell and Best Wishes

As this research project is now in the final stages of wrapping-up, we wish to thank everyone who participated in this inquiry; the students, mentors, teachers and others behind the scenes. We appreciate all of your efforts and contributions to this online learning community.

Scientific exploration is a process of discovery that can be fun! There are many unanswered questions about plants just waiting for new scientists to consider, investigate, and share.

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Amina Yaqoob
said

Thank you Kate and Mike for summarizing the results. This is spectacular how you conducted the experiment and collected the data at home. Thank you Ansul for your feedback. Kate's results are showing the 100w (Incandescent) a winner while Mika's results are quiet interesting with varying numbers of floating leaves. Let's discuss these. The principle of experiment is obvious that the rate of photosynthesis is directly proportional to the number of leaves floating,  The variations in results can be due to following reasons

1. The difference in leaf size or age can be a factor. Whether all the leaves were of almost same age and size or not? Larger leaves give off more oxygen than the smaller leaves. Similarly the age of the leaf significantly affects the response to changes in light conditions.

2. The difference of time length is also an important aspect. Did the time lengths were precisely measured for each set of experiment. While setting up or switching the lights, the possibility of varying light periods can be a factor.

Summing up, I would like to say that you are doing an amazing job. I love how it is coming along. Looking forward to the hypothesis you'll generate at the end. 

Ansul Lokdarshi
said

Hi y'all, My name is Ansul Lokdarshi and I am one of the project managers for this PlantingScience project. While your mentor @Amina gets a chance to respond, I am here to provide some quick feedback. 

I really like the way you all have summarized the observations into a nice table. Makes it easier to follow and also will be helpful to build some hypotheses. 

@KATE and @ Mika - I'm really confused why this time I only got one to float. I let my experiment go a bit longer than ten minutes (didn't chart the data) and few more floated, but not as many that had floated in the 10 minutes of the first experiment.

When you get a negative result like the above, it can mean many things.

Let's start by some obvious questions:

1. Are the leaves of the same age and size with the new and old experiments?

2. Are the solutions with baking soda made exactly the same concentration as last experiment?

The reason for leaves to float is rate O2 evolution (coming from photosynthesis) and rate of respiration (O2 consumption). As the ratio increases, the leaves will start to float. 

Kate
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Kate
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Kate
said

Last class, we ran our experiment again.

Mika (from home)

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Mika: Error Analysis

    The baking soda sat in the75w cup longer than the other ones because she had to change the light bulb

    She bumped into her table at ~7 minutes and about 4 pieces started to float

Kate (at school)

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LED 

Since last time we ran the lab our lamps were at different angles, I angled them all over the cups.

 

I'm really confused why this time I only got one to float. I let my experiment go a bit longer than ten minutes (didn't chart the data) and few more floated, but not as many that had floated in the 10 minutes of the first experiment.

Our lab station is by a window, so there was a different level of sunlight both times, but both days were sunny days and at the same time of day.

Mika
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Mika
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Oliver
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Oliver
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So me and Kate ran the experiment Mika described today, with slight modifications and errors. Here is the table for the experiment me and Kate ran: 

 

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100w (Incandescent) 

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The 0/9, 2/9 are how many spinech pieces floated to the top. 

The at home data table (preformed by Mika) 

 

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100w (Incandescent) 

0/11 

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40w (Incandescent) 

6/12 

Errors: 

The cup with the 75 watt bulb was taken out momentarily 

There were only 9 spinach pieces in one cup (75 watt) 

One cup didn't have the baking soda stirred in all the way (100 watt) 

One lamp was angled differently than all the other ones 

Modifications: 

We used a 75 watt lamp rather than a 40 watt lamp.

Oliver
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Mika
said

Hello!

Continuing our research on plants and photosynthesis, we have planned out a second experiment similar to our first but with changes to the variables. 

Like our first experiment, at least 10 infiltrated spinach disks will be placed into each of our cups, the cups will be filled with water to a 2-inch mark, and we will count how many spinach pieces float to the top of a cup each minute within 10 minutes. Though, the second experiment will include 3 separate cups filled with 1 teaspoon of baking soda each and the cups will be placed under lamps of different lights: one lamp with an LED light, one lamp with a 40 watt incandescent light, one lamp with a 100 watt incandescent light. The baking soda will be used to provide each cup of water/spinach with carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. We are experimenting with different types of lightbulbs to possibly see whether the different lights that a plant may be exposed to when growing inside will affect plant photosynthesis.

We believe that the spinach in the cup under the LED-light lamp will result in more pieces floating to the top faster. With LED lights typically being stronger and brighter than incandescent lights, the amount of light emitted from the LED might help the spinach pieces perform photosynthesis quicker.

    Amina Yaqoob
    said

    great going ! thanks for the heads up!

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Kate
said

In class on Friday we completed the first part of our experiment: We again punched holes in spinach and removed the oxygen from them, but this time we had to two cups, one with plain water and one with a tsp of baking soda in the water. Then we took the oxygen out of the leaves using the water that we were going to put those spinach "rounds" into (rounds that were going into the baking soda cup used the baking soda water to take out the oxygen, and rounds going into the plain cup used plain water to remove the oxygen). Then we put both cups under a light and counted how many rounds were floating each minute for 10 minutes. By the end of the time, almost all of the rounds in the baking soda water had created oxygen through photosynthesis (and therefore floated up to the top), but none of the rounds in the plain water floated. We believe that the results of this experiment were caused by the carbon dioxide in the water. When baking soda mixes with water, it breaks down into different molecules, one being carbon dioxide. We know that plants need carbon dioxide to photosynthesize, so that's why the spinach in the baking soda created oxygen and the spinach in the plain water didn't.

Mika
said

I completely agree with Kate -- punching holes into leaves was rather satisfying. Just to add to what we learned about the spinach leaves for the experiments that we will perform, I learned to make sure that the spinach was fresh and not wilting for the experiment. It seems that the wilting spinach will be unable to release oxygen and perform photosynthesis as the fresh leaves would. Looking forward, I hope to find out how long the leaves are able to give off oxygen. Though, I am also confused about how the leaves continue to give off oxygen after they have been picked off of a plant, so I hope that answer will, too, be uncovered as we continue our experiments.

Kate
said

We learned more about photosynthesis including the formula for photosynthesis these past few days. Today we did a "practice" experiment. In our real experiment, we need to take oxygen out of spinach leaves to see if the leaves are in fact photosynthesizing. We practiced doing that because you can easily mess it up. First, we used a hole puncher and punched holes in a spinach leaf (highly satisfying, 10/10 would recommend ) and then put the punches in a syringe. Then, we filled the syringe with water and flipped it upside down so we could push the air bubbles out the top. Next, to remove the oxygen from the leaves, we put our thumb on the opening of the syringe and pulled the oxygen out of the leaves. Then we put them in a cup of water. When they still had the oxygen in them they floated, but once we removed the oxygen then they sunk to the bottom.

Mika
said

Hello! In class on the April 9th, we further learned about where a plant gets its mass; we looked at an experiment in which the growth of three seeds were compared with one seed taking in sunlight but no water, another taking in water but being in the dark, and the last having both sunlight and water. We saw that the seed without water but with sunlight did not gain mass or grow, the seed with both sunlight and water gained mass and grow, and the seed without sunlight but with water loss mass. With this new information, I still believe that a plant gains mass from water as the seeds seemed to need water to begin growth, but I also would like to add that a plant also gains mass with exposure to sunlight. I think that plants need water or something in the water as both seeds that received water began to grow while the seed without water did not. Also, plants may need sunlight as a means to gain energy and, possibly, collect mass since the seed that, while having received water, was not exposed to sunlight did not gain mass and had to use stored energy rather than energy from sunlight.

    Amina Yaqoob
    said

    Wow great going! thanks for the updates Mike and Kate. Yes, plants need water, sunlight and air to grow ideally. I love your experiment setup and the way you are comparing results of the three seed groups. Indeed "Carbon" is the game changer and water is life, but don't forget to focus on how the sunlight presence or absence could affect a plant growth. Lookin forward to further updates.  Have a wonderful week ahead!

Kate
said

Hello! In class today we were learning about plants and where plants' mass come from! We were talking about this one French scientist (his name sounded very French, so I'm assuming) who did an experiment to see if plant's mass came from the dirt. The plants only took a little bit of the dirt, but grew a lot, so he saw that a plant's mass isn't coming from the dirt. We also talked about water and photosynthesis, but I don't believe that those make up the majority of the plant's mass. If water made up the mass of a plant, I would expect the plant to be flexible, not hard like a tree. And I don't think sunlight makes up the mass because that it would take an insane amount of sunlight to grow a huge tree like a Redwood tree. Therefore, I believe that carbon makes up the mass of a tree. All living things have carbon in them and we discussed plant's role in the carbon cycle- they take in carbon from the air and store it until they die. Since they don't release carbon until they die, they store the carbon inside of them and all the carbon they collect makes them get bigger and bigger.

    Kate
    said

    1) The "French" scientist I mentioned above was actually from Belgium.

    2) We were talking more about where a plant's mass comes from and I now believe that carbon along with sunlight and water all contribute to the plant's mass. When a seed begins growing, it is gaining its mass from water (an maybe carbon) underground. But once the plant comes to the surface and grows leaves, it absorbs carbon through the air and sunlight. I now believe that carbon and sunlight, along with water create the mass of the plant.

Mika
said

Hello!

Our class is currently questioning where the mass of a plant comes from. Does it come from the air? the sunlight? the dirt? Is it something else, or a combination of these factors? I believe that the mass of a plant comes from water. As our class previously saw that the dirt a plant is in does not lose much weight while the plant gains weight and grows, I think that a plant might be increasing its mass from the water that it collects.

Kate
said

Hi! My name is Kate and I'm a freshman in Honors Biology. I enjoy dancing, coding, reading, and playing violin. I also have three younger brothers. I think plants are very interesting, and I have a small cactus I persuaded my parents to get at home. I don't have the patience to keep a plant that drinks a lot of water alive, so I just water the cactus when I remember! I think botany is really interesting and I enjoy reading about how plants "talk" or send messages to each other through fungi. I also think it is very cool how plants can navigate their way to water and the sound of water when they don't have ears or a brain (that we know of!). 

What is your favorite science experiment that you've ever done? Do you have any pets? What is your favorite book? What is your favorite food?

 

 

    Amina Yaqoob
    said

    Nice to meet you Kate,

    I am loving your communication style and the way you are perceiving plants. Thanks for starting this thread, I love working with plants, both in lab and field, but one of my most favorite experiments is the DNA extraction from the plant content. I have no pets but I do have some succulent plants in my room and it's so lovely to watch their juicy leaves. My favorite book is a poetry book in my native language and the favorite food is Mac and Cheese. What about you? 

Mika
said

Hello, Dr. Yaqoob!

I am Mika, and I am in the 9th grade. I read that you like volunteer work, and I enjoy volunteer work, too! Outdoor, gardening projects are my favorite. What kinds of volunteer projects do you prefer?

    Amina Yaqoob
    said

    Nice to meet you Mika,

    I love being interactive with young children and had been busy in several outreach activities (seminars, plant days, lectures etc) in my country, Pakistan. Since the Pandemic has changed everything and all I could do in last year was writing and publishing articles. I am serving as a secretary to ASPB ambassador program and we have a lot of interesting stuff to do there. 

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Ansul Lokdarshi
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