The Photosynthesis Process and the Importance of Leaves

3.9 based on 13 ratings

Updated on Jun 25, 2014


Earth Science


5th grade

Difficulty of Project



$15-20 per student

Safety Issues


Material Availability

Easy; materials can be easily obtained

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project (Including analysis and write-up)

2-3 weeks

What is the project about?
The photosynthesis experiment is an activity which demonstrates the importance of a plant's leaves in the process of photosynthesis.
What are the goals?
The goals of the photosynthesis experiment are for students to better understand the process of photosynthesis and the important role leaves play within the process. Students will also learn the concepts of an independent variable, dependent variable, constant variable, and control. Lastly, caring for living plants is an underlying lesson and theme of this project.

What materials are required?
  • 2 small indoor potted plants (must be same size and species; the Ficus Benjamin tree is recommended for this experiment)
  • Petroleum jelly (small jar)
  • Water
  • Area with sunlight
  • Marker
Where can the materials be found?
Most materials can be found at a nursery and at an all purpose store (such as CVS)

  • What is the basic process of photosynthesis?
  • What is the role of a leaf in the process of photosynthesis?
  • Describe the following: independent variable, dependent variable, constant variable, and control.

For the parent/student, what terms and concepts are required to better understand the project?
The concept of photosynthesis and the function of a plant's leaves in photosynthesis is very important. The following worksheet can be completed by the students to ensure they understand the basic principles of photosynthesis:
Experimental Procedure
  1. First choose one plant to be the control plant, and with the marker write 'Control' on the pot container. Put this plant aside.
  2. Then cover all of the leaves of the other plant with a layer of petroleum jelly. The top and underside of the leaves should be completely covered.
  3. Water both plants with the same appropriate amount of water, and place next to each other in a bright, sunny area.
  4. Monitor both plants for several weeks, recording the status of each plant every few days (color of leaves, new leaf growth, etc).
  5. Don't forget to water the plants as appropriate; be sure to provide equal care to each plant.

Brooke Greco graduated from UC Berkeley, and has volunteered her time with several after-school learning programs over the last several years. Brooke served as a Citizen's Schools Teacher in Redwood City, CA, where she taught a course on the rain forest. In addition, Brooke served as a teacher at the New Era Galapagos Foundation and taught English and conservation practices to local youth of the Galapagos Islands.

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