Science project

What Do Leaves Do?

Difficulty of Project



Less than $50

Safety Issues


Material Availability

Use a houseplant and supplies found at home or purchase from a local retailer. 

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

1 week


This experiment teaches kids the different functions of a leaf.  

Materials and Equipment / Ingredients

  • Potted plant
  • Paper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paperclip            
  • Rubber band
  • Camera
  • Printed Photos 


Leaves provide food and air to help a plant stay healthy and grow. Through photosynthesis, leaves turn light energy into food. Through pores, or stomata, leaves “breathe” in carbon dioxide and “breathe” out oxygen. Leaves also release excess water, much like we sweat. In this experiment, kids will test what happens to a leaf when covered with different materials.  

Research Questions
  • What is photosynthesis?
  • What is transpiration?
  • What is respiration?
  • What makes a plant green?
  • What are the different parts of the leave that help with photosynthesis, transpiration and respiration? 
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
  • Photosynthesis – the process by which plants turn light into food that can be used by the plant to grow
  • Transpiration – the process of a plant releasing water vapor through pores called stomata
  • Respiration – the process of a plant breathing
  • Chloroplast – structure within the plant where photosynthesis occurs 

Experimental (Research) Procedure

  • Get a healthy green potted plant with large leaves.
  • Take photos of your plant before starting the experiment.
  • Cover the tops of 2 leaves with a piece of paper using a paperclip to secure the paper.
  • Cover 2 leaves entirely with plastic wrap. Use a rubber band wrapped around the stem to secure the plastic.
  • Water the plant and place it in a sunny location.
  • Check and take photos of the plant daily for 5 days. Write down any changes in the leaves or other observations you make.
  • On day 5 take the paper and plastic off the leaves. What happened to the leaves? Why did this happen? Take pictures and write down what happened to the leaves.
  • Display the plant and your photos and notes at the science fair.  


Nova Online: Illuminating Photosynthesis

Cupertino Union School District: Leaves

Biology 4 Kids: Plant Basics

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Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.

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