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Do Plants Need Light?

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Barbara Tharp, MS.


  • Have students rinse away the soil and compare the final masses (in grams) of the plants in pots 1–2 vs. those in pots 3–4.
  • As an alternative investigation, conduct the same activity with corn seeds (a monocot), and compare the results.
  • Help students to “see” chlorophyll, the pigments essential for converting light energy into chemical energy (food molecules), by placing a handful of crushed fresh leaves (any kind) into a clear container filled with about 2 cm of rubbing alcohol. Stir the mixture briefly and insert the tip of a strip of coffee filter paper into the alcohol. The chlorophyll pigments will travel up the paper strip and form a green band that will be visible after about 1/2 hour. This method of separating chemicals in solution is known as paper chromatography. 

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932