How to Find the Rate of Photosynthesis

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Photosynthesis is the process by which plants create food for themselves using carbon dioxide and sunlight. This process depends on the level of light present, temperature, water and nutrients. Plants may produce more or less food if one of these factors changes. You can use a variety of methods to determine the rate of photosynthesis, including using various complex CO2-sensitive instruments and other high-tech equipment. However, we will discuss a way to find the estimated rate of photosynthesis easily without pricey equipment.

Things You'll Need

  • Leaves from a plant
  • Paper punch
  • Syringe
  • Baking soda and water solution
  • Stopwatch
  • Cut little circles from the leaves using a paper punch. The experiment will be done using these leaf disks. Be sure to prepare an abundant amount for sample selection and multiple experiment results.

  • Place the leaf disks inside the syringe and fill the syringe with the baking soda and water solution. Remove any leaf disks that float and keep only the ones that sink to the bottom of the syringe. Empty the syringe and refill it once again with the baking soda solution.

  • With your stopwatch, measure the amount of time needed for the leaf disk to go from a resting position to the moment it begins floating from the bottom of the syringe. This will occur when the leaf begins generating oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

  • The amount of time recorded can provide you with a rough estimate of tested leaf's rate of photosynthesis. Repeat the experiment a few more times and average the results for a more accurate test result.

  • Use leaves from various plants and repeat the experiment if you wish to compare the rates among different plants.

Tips & Warnings

  • This experiment is not an accurate measurement. To obtain more precise results, you should use pricey laboratory equipment to measure the different components of the photosynthetic process.

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