In this lab, you're students will explore the relationship between sunlight, carbon dioxide and photosynthesis. You'll need plastic syringes, which are available from online retailers, or often are donated from biotechnology labs depending on where you are located. The other ingredients are easily located in the grocery store.
Students start out by cutting out small disks of spinach. Next, they infiltrate the disks with a soapy mixture to eliminate air pockets in the leaves, allowing the spinach to sink. Some disks also get bicarbonate to provide carbon dioxide, while others don't. Your students then place the disks under a bright light and see what happens. Spinach disks that have carbon dioxide do photosynthesis, producing oxygen. The oxygen bubbles cause the leaves to float! Students measure how many disks float over time to discover the relationship between products and reactants during photosynthesis.
This lab has background reading to provide students with information on photosynthesis and gives an introduction to the lab. This is great if students miss a day, as you can carry on with class while they catch up on what they've missed through self directed learning. The lab has clear methods provided, so with a little overview, students can carry out the lab easily on their own. It also has a results section to record their data and space to create a line graph.
The lab also includes a lab report with introduction, methods, results summary and conclusion section. Each section has sentence starters, designed to differentiate your instruction and make the large task of a lab report more manageable. Sentence starters can be removed for more advanced students.
With this fun lab, students will see photosynthesis in action and get a taste of scientific inquiry. It should take three, one hour long periods to complete.