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Joshua Pangilinan

Period 4

January 9, 2017

Leaf Disks Lab


To investigate the rate of photosynthesis using different colored light, a lab was designed to test

the rate of photosynthesis in a leaf disk. Spinach was used as the type of leaf that will be experimented on.

To discover which set of leaf disks produced oxygen first, a leaf disks was exhausted from its oxygen and

put into a cup of water to sink. Different colored cups were put on top of the water cup to stimulate the

different colored light. The different colored cups included in the lab were: red, yellow, green, and clear.

To find out which colored light had the fastest leaf float- indicating a faster rate of photosynthesis- a timer

was set up to time the leaves. At the end of the lab, the leaves under the yellow light had the fastest time

to float up, because yellow had the closest wavelength to photosynthesis’ peak.


Photosynthesis is a process used by plants, bacteria and sometimes algae. Photosynthesis is the

process of absorbing sunlight into a plant’s leaf and using the sunlight as energy to make sugar and

oxygen. All plants and leafs use photosynthesis whether the calvin cycle is in the mesophyll cell or not. In

the calvin cycle, carbon is entered into the cycle and makes sugar through the process in the calvin cycle.

First sun shines on a leaf getting the chlorophyll excited. Then, the chlorophyll gives an electron away

and that electron makes water. The water is broken and the hydrogen goes through the NADP to make

NADPH. Then hydrogen is taken and makes hydrogen and carbon dioxide. There the carbon enters the

calvin cycle and sucrose is made.


If the rate of photosynthesis is being tested using different colored light, then the cup leaves with

the yellow light will have a faster rate of photosynthesis; therefore, having the quickest leaves float,

because yellow light’s wavelength is about 570 nanometers and photosynthesis peaks at about 650



Independent variable: Colored light

Dependent variable: Time the leaf disks took to float

Control: Clear light

The clear light was chosen as a control because regularly plants grow in clear light.


Before the lab, the class had to individually learn how to do the lab as homework. Doing this

prepared the class on how to exactly do the lab effectively and not waste time. As seen from the

homework, the class tried to mimic the procedures of the lab. First the class cleared out our station and the

floor from any backpacks for safety reasons. Next, the following materials were gathered to the group’s

stations: 6 clear cups, 1 yellow cup, 1 green cup, 1 red cup, baking soda (carbon dioxide), a beaker with

water, spinach leaves, straws, 4 syringes, timer, and a light source (materials based on color light focus).

Once the materials were gathered the individual groups proceeded to start their labs based on what each

individual group focused on testing. To test which colored light will have the leaf disks float faster

colored cups were put on top of the cups with leaves in them. To set this up, the group had 4 cups with

water in them and about 3 grams of baking soda in each cup. Then the spinach leaves were cut with the

straws to make the leaf disks. One the group had about 5 disks, the team put the leaf disks in the syringes
with water. Next, all oxygen was taken out of the syringe then a thumb was placed on the tip of the

syringe and the tubing was pulled. Pulling the tube was to take out any oxygen left inside the leaves.

Taking the oxygen outside the leaves will cause the leaf disks to start sinking. Once all disks sank, the

leaves were quickly placed in their designated cups (5 leaf disks for each cup). Once all the 4 cups were

set up, the colored cups were put on top of the cup so that the light is colored when the leaves are heated.

Finally, all 4 cups were put under the light and the light was turned on and the process of photosynthesis

starts. To collect the data, a timer was set up to mark when all leaf disks floated up in the individual cup.


Colored Light Time for all leaf disks to float

Control (clear) 26 minutes

Green 8 minutes and 30 seconds

Red 19 minutes and 42 seconds

Yellow 6 minutes and 15 minutes

Processed Data

This lab was to stimulate which colored light would make the leaf disks float the fastest. Spinach

leaves were used for the experiment on testing the rate of photosynthesis. Baking soda was used for the

carbon dioxide since plants need carbon dioxide, considering it is a limiting factor. The lab showed that

the leaf disks that were under the yellow light floated the fastest. Yellow light was the closest color to

photosynthesis’ peak of wavelength. The leaf disks under the yellow light floated at about 6 minutes and

15 seconds while the next color was green at 8 minutes and 30 seconds for the leaves to float.

To conclude the lab, leaf disks under the yellow light had the faster process of photosynthesis so

that the leaves can create sugar and oxygen to start floating. The control took the longest time with 26

minutes; while, the leaves under the green light came close with the ones under the yellow light with 2

minutes and 15 seconds difference. Although the leaf disks under the green light should have taken the

longest due the its wavelength, there could have been a problem from human error. For example, the

leaves under the green light had warmer water or more carbon dioxide. Having these factors are a major

concern on how fast the leaves can produce oxygen; since water and carbon dioxide are limiting factors to

photosynthesis. Warmer water and more carbon dioxide can speed up the oxygen flow of the leaves.