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Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration

By Hudson Lana
Teacher: Katya Ewy
- To be able to describe the reactants and products of photosynthesis and the source of
reactants from the environment.
- To be able to explain the relationship of photosynthesis to the observations made during
the experiment.
In this lab I will be observing leaf disks in a solution of baking soda. In one set of leaf
disks I will expose them to light and the other set I will expose to darkness. I will then observe
and compare the amount of time it takes each set of leaf disks to float.
When light is absorbed by leaf pigments such as chlorophyll a or b, electrons within each
photosystem are boosted to a higher energy level. The leaves then produce ATP, to reduce
NADP to NADPH, and incorporate CO2 into organic molecules in a process called carbon
fixation. When leaves are put in the water and undergo the process of the light-dependent
reaction, oxygen is produced and released into the interior of the leaf which causes them to rise.
However, cellular respiration is also occurring at the same time, consuming the oxygen
produced in photosynthesis. The leaves must have a carbon source provided to them to allow
photosynthesis to carry on. The amount of light the plant receives coupled with the amount of
available CO2 will influence the rate at which photosynthesis occurs. The aim of this experiment
is to measure the effect of light intensity and availability of carbon and their effects of the rate of
If I place small leaf disks to a solution of baking exposed to light, then they will float
faster because the light increases the rate of photosynthesis.
1. Using a drinking straw, cut out 5 uniform leaf disks. Avoid any major veins in
the leaves.
2. In the large glass cup, measure out 1 cup of water and then add 1 teaspoon of
baking soda to the water.
3. Remove the plunger of the syringe and place 5 leaf disks in the syringe barrel
and then replace the plunger
4. Push on the plunger until only a small volume of air and leaf disks remain in the
5. Place the tip of the syringe into the baking soda solution and pull back on the
plunger, drawing a small amount of the solution into the syringe ( 1520 mL).

Tap the syringe to make sure all of the leaf disks are at the bottom of the
6. Hold the syringe tip upward and expel the air by depressing the plunger
carefully. Stop pushing on the plunger before any solution comes out the tip.
7. Seal the tip of the syringe with one finger and hold tightly. Pull back on the
plunger to create a partial vacuum inside the syringe. Hold this for 10 seconds.
8. While still holding the vacuum in the syringe, swirl the leaf disks in the solution.
The solution will fill in the air spaces in the leaf, causing the disks to sink.
9. Holding the syringe tip upward, simultaneously release the syringe plunger and
tip to release the vacuum.
10. If the leaf disks did not all sink inside the syringe barrel, repeat steps 79 until
all of the leaf disks sink to the bottom of the syringe barrel.
11. Place the syringe, plunger side down, on the work surface approximately 15
20 centimeters from the light source (adjust the distance accordingly so that the
solution does not absorb excess heat). The light source should be at least 60
12. Begin timing the experiment as soon as the light source is turned on. Record
the number of disks that are floating at the top of the solution at the end of each
minute in your data table. After each time check, tap the side of the syringe to
make sure disks are not sticking to the container walls.
13. Continue timing and observing until all 5 disks in are floating.
14. Repeat steps 111 with a new set of 5 disks. Place the syringe upright on the
plunger and cover with a large bucket, bowl, or foil to prevent exposure to light.
15. Begin timing the experiment, recording the number of disks that are floating at
the end of each minute. Check the number of disks quickly to prevent extended
exposure to light.
16. Continue timing and observing for a total of 15 minutes. Record all
observations in the data table.



Number of

Number of

Disks Floating

Disks Floating









I hypothesised that if I placed small leaf disks to a solution of baking exposed to light,
then they would float faster because the light increases the rate of photosynthesis. My data
showed that this was a correct hypothesis and that discs in the solution that was exposed to
light did float much quicker to the top. This was because the light expedited the process of
photosynthesis and caused the leaves to float. The lack of light and photosynthesis caused the
leaves to consume as much oxygen as it could from its surrounding and had a much harder
time consuming enough oxygen to float to the top.
1. What was the independent variable and dependent variable in this
The independent variable was the amount of light the leaf disks were exposed to. The
dependent was the amount of time it took for them to float.

2. How were other variables controlled in each part of the experiment?

All substances were in glass cups with one cup of water, one teaspoon of baking soda, and
same sized disks of the same type of leaf.

3. Did the results support the hypothesis in the experiment? Support your answer.
Yes because just like i hypothesized the leaf disks did float up faster when exposed to the

4. How do the numbers of floating disks correspond to the rate of photosynthesis?

The higher the number, the higher the rate of photosynthesis.

5. What causes leaf disks to float?

Oxygen causes leaf disks to float.

6. What happened to cause the leaf disks to sink?

They could not do cellular respiration or photosynthesis to be able to float up.

7. What purpose did the baking soda serve in this experiment

Baking soda provides the carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis.