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Students will observe how the following factors affect photosynthesis:
- Light vs. dark
- Extra carbon dioxide
In this lab, students will:
- Read an introduction to the lab and photosynthesis. (Students should have some prior teaching on photosynthesis before this lab.)
- Prepare “leaf disks” by punching holes in spinach leaves with a straw and removing gases from the leaf disks using a syringe. Kids LOVE this part of the lab! (I reuse the syringes over and over and over to save money.)
- (Part One) Place spinach leaf disks in light and in the dark. Students will then record data in a data table, answer follow-up questions, and complete a CER for this part of the lab.
- (Part Two) Place spinach leaf disks in solutions at 3 different temperatures. Students will then record data in a data table, answer follow-up questions, and complete a CER for this part of the lab.
- (Part Three) Place spinach leaf disks in plain water and water that has added carbon dioxide. Students will then record data in a data table, answer follow-up questions, and complete a CER for this part of the lab.
All three parts of this lab have their own analysis section and CER question, so you can do each part of the lab separately. And, the lab papers are separated into the three sections, so you can very easily copy them separately, too.
Note to teachers who have tried this “leaf disk lab” before: If you’re like me, you’ve pretty much given up on the “spinach leaf disk lab” that is widely used by middle school teachers everywhere. In my experience, the available versions of that lab are either way too complicated or a little too simple for my students. So, I have improved on the traditional lab in the following ways:
- An easier-to-follow procedure for kids
- Added rigor by including 3 variables to test – light/dark, carbon dioxide, and temperature
- Simplified the supply list, making the lab cheaper and easier to do
I hope you’ll find this updated and improved version useful for your students, too!
- 10mL syringe
- Spinach leaves
- Clear cups/beakers
- Baking soda
- Lamp or clamp light
- Dish soap
- INCLUDES ANSWER KEY.
- Please note: this resource is not editable.
- Get everything you need to teach this topic in our CELL ENERGY UNIT!