Shapes of Leaves

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Updated on Aug 22, 2013

Trees use leaves to store water and nutrients. We appreciate leaves for their natural beauty, their nutritional value, the cool shade they provide on hot summer days, and the fun we have jumping from the bare autumn branches into a great big pile of them.Every now and then, we pick one up and examine it more closely. In this project we’ll explore the factors that determine the shapes of leaves.

Problem:

What factors determine the shapes of leaves?

Materials:

  • Computer with internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • Assorted leaf samples
  • Magnifying glass
  • Microscope (optional)
  • Typical office/craft supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board)

Procedure

  1. Research related materials (see bibliography below)
  2. Select 20-30 different leaf specimens.
  3. Search, print, label, and categorize photos of leaves you find interesting. Make sure to collect a wide variety of leaf shapes.
  4. Examine, identify, categorize, and photograph each specimen you collect.
  5. Study the properties of each individual leaf. Record all observations.
  6. Discover and explain the factors that determine the shape of a leaf.
  7. Preserve your specimens by drying them (optional).
  8. Interpret your results in a detailed report.
  9. Show results visually using photos taken throughout the course of the experiment.
  10. Include beautiful leaf arrangements in your science fair display.
Judee Shipman is a Bay Area Educational Consultant and professional writer of quality educational materials.  Her recent writing credits include Top50States.com (a popular and entertaining website about states), and a book called The Portable Chess Coach (Cardoza, 2006), currently available in stores.

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