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Aquatic Plants and Photosynthesis

Question Will the aquatic plant elodea kept in the dark produce less oxygen
compared to elodea kept in the light when placed in a summertime diurnal cycle
for four days?
Hypothesis During the course of four days, one elodea plant will be in sunlight
for approximately 40 hours. The other elodea plant will not have access to
sunlight throughout the course of four days. As this is happening during summer
days with clear skies and lots of sunlight during the day, I hypothesize that the
elodea plant with access to sunlight will photosynthesize at a rate that oxygen
(one of the products of photosynthesis) will be clearly visible in the boiling tube.
On the other hand, I believe that the elodea plant without access to sunlight will
not photosynthesize, or photosynthesize at a much slower rate than the plant
with sunlight so that the amount of oxygen in the boiling tube will be
significantly smaller than the amount of oxygen produced from the other plant. I
believe this because the process of photosynthesis requires the presence of
sunlight, and if there is no sunlight, it is not possible for plants to
photosynthesize. Oxygen (air bubbles) will be observable proof that
photosynthesis has occurred in the plant.
- 2 Boiling tubes
- 2 elodea plants
- 2 funnels
- Tape
- Water tank (with water)
- Sunlight
- Plasticine/Clay
Dependent Variables
The amount of oxygen observed in the boiling tube as a comparison
between the elodea plants (with/without access to sunlight)
Independent Variables
The presence of sunlight
Controlled Variables
Plants are the same (or about the same) length and size. A longer or
bigger plant could have more surface area and be able to produce more
oxygen than a smaller plant, so it would not be a fair test.
Plants are placed in the same water. This will make sure that they get the
same nutrients that might affect the experiment. The rate of
photosynthesis might be affected by the amount of nutrients that the
plant is receiving through the water.

Plants are put in the same places (sections) in the tank. This will ensure
that both of the plants are in the same conditions and that one plant does
not get more/less light than the other one, which can have an effect on the
Having the same sized funnels/boiling tubes. The size of these materials
can determine the water and gas (oxygen/carbon dioxide) circulation
around the plants, and therefore will affect the photosynthesis rate.

Extraneous Variables
- Initial health of the plant
- Amount of roots on the plant
- Type of water in the tank
1) Get an elodea plant
2) Get a funnel and boiling tube
3) Turn the funnel upside down
4) Anchor the elodea plant down on the bottom edge of the funnel
5) Arrange the plant so that t sticks out of the neck of the funnel
6) Put the boiling tube on top of the funnel so that it covers the elodea that is
sticking out
6) Repeat this process again using the same sized elodea, funnel and boiling tube
7) Cover one of the plant/funnel/tube contraptions using duct tape
8) Put both of them in the same tank, placed together
9) Leave them for four days
10) After four days observe and compare the amount of oxygen that has risen to
the top of the boiling tubes as a sign of photosynthesis
Data Collection
Plant A Yes
Plant B No

Oxygen (Presence)

Oxygen (Amount)

Data Processing
The two plants (A and B) would have a ratio of about 10:7 as a comparison of
oxygen produced. (I dont know the exact amount. Approximate results.)


Looking at the table and graph above, we can see that plant A (exposed to
sunlight) had about approximately 30% more oxygen collected in the boiling
tube that plant B (covered from sunlight). From these results I can accept my
hypothesis. I knew that oxygen is a product of photosynthesis, which is a process
that requires sunlight to occur. Therefore I expected that plant A (with sunlight)
would photosynthesize more than plant B (without sunlight), producing a bigger
amount of oxygen.
- One of the biggest problems I had during this experiment was taking off
the tape from the boiling tube/funnel with the plant in it. In order to
observe the results, I had to remove the tape, but it was extremely sticky
and wouldnt come off easily. During the procedure of taking the tape off,
the apparatus started shaking and moving around, which might have
altered the results. Also, the cleanup was difficult and observation was
hard. Next time, I will use another method (such as tinfoil) to cover up the
plant, so that removing it can be easier.
- Another unexpected situation was the result of the experiment. I was
expecting a bigger difference in the amount of oxygen produced from the
two plants. However, there wasnt a very big difference (although it was
noticeable). I think this had to do with some of the controlled variables in
the experiment. It might have been that the two plants in the tank were
placed in such a way that the uncovered one did not get enough sunlight.
This would have altered the results a bit, since then it would have been
difficult for photosynthesis to occur in both of the plants, not just one.
Next time, I will definitely make sure to place both of them together, in a
space with equal access to light.
- (Similar to above, I could make the overall results of this lab better and
more accurate by making sure that the controlled variables in the
experiment are all exactly equal).