September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Virtual Photosynthesis Lab

Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

by Jeff Orlinsky

This month’s activity incorporates computer virtual labs into your curriculum. I am not endorsing any company’s product; in fact you can find these labs via an Internet search. My goal for this activity is to use the virtual labs ability to model what would happen if I had the time and place to do this lab in my classroom. The other advantage for this lab is that it is reliable. I am sure of the results and know my students will have data to analyze.

The activity I am presenting is very wide open, and uses an inquiry instructional method. I present the question to the students, and share with them the different virtual labs available to the students. Each virtual lab has the instructions and videos to support the students’ interactions with the virtual labs. I give them a set time to explore and collect data. At the end of the activity, the students present their findings to the class. After the presentations, students form small groups to discuss the different topics presented. Finally, students respond to a written prompt. The instructions are below:

Virtual Photosynthesis Lab: Which abiotic factor(s) affect a plant?

Please visit these Virtual Lab Sites and complete the activities:

Collect and organize your data.

Analyze your data: Determine the average amount of gas produced or plant height.

Find the optimal factors that cause the plant to grow the most.

Group presentations: present your findings and analyses to the class

Small group discussion:

  • Using the information provided from the other groups, repeat their experiments
  • Determine if your results match other group’s results

Respond in Writing:

  • Describe the experiments you performed.
  • What did you find out? Which factors had a positive effect on the plant, which ones had a negative effect on the plant? Use data from the virtual labs to support your answer.

Written by Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky teaches science at Warren High School and is a member of CSTA.

3 Responses

  1. What if those virtual experiments were real and not simulated?

  2. In the past, when I have completed these labs in the classroom, I am unable to get consistent data. Also some of these experiments require more space than my classroom can provide. However, many of these labs can be done in a classroom, and if you have the space and materials, definitely have your students perform these experiments.

  3. The brevity of my comment may have made it unclear. You can do real experiments online. You can even have hands-on data collection of online real experiments. Technology is wonderful!

    I merely suggest that online real experiments should be superior to online simulated experiments for the purposes of understanding science — what it’s all about. The simulations are great visualization aids but leave out the reality of doing experiments.

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Written by Peter AHearn

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