Photosynthesis Experiments for Kids

Instructor: Shelby Golden
These experiments can help kids get a better understanding of the process of photosynthesis. They can also discover what plants need to complete photosynthesis. Read this article to find easy to follow directions and additional ideas for educating students about this subject.

Is Water Enough?

Most kids probably know that plants need water to live, but this experiment is a good way to reinforce this knowledge. It also helps students learn about what else plants need to go through photosynthesis.

What You Need:

  • 6 small plants or plant clippings
  • Plastic bags
  • Pots
  • Water

Directions:

This experiment takes place over a few days, so make sure you plan accordingly. First, two of the plants or clippings will need to go in plastic bags and the others will go in pots.

These plants will also be treated differently. Put one of the plants that's in a sealed plastic bag in sunlight and the other in a dark location. Next, place two potted plants in the sunlight and two in the dark. Then, water the bagged plants, one of the other plants in the light and one of the other plants in the dark (make sure your students keep track of which plants they're watering!) and leave the other two plants dry. Now it's time to watch them.

Have your students check on the plants over the next several days. How are they doing? Do the plants that are getting water look the same? What about the ones in the sun and those that are in the dark? What's going on with the plants in the bags?

Your students should find that the plants in the dark are not doing well, even the one not in the bag that's getting watered regularly. Similarly, the unwatered plant in the sun should start looking worse and worse. Both plants in the bags might have done alright to start with, but as time goes on, they should droop more and more as the carbon dioxide in the bags run out.

Discussion Points:

Have your students consider why the plants react as they do. What does this indicate about what plants need to successfully complete photosynthesis? They can find out more about the requirements for photosynthesis with this lesson on the photosynthesis equation.

The Importance of Leaves

Now that your students understand what a plant needs to complete photosynthesis, use this experiment to help them learn about the parts of a plant involved in this process.

You'll Need:

  • Plants
  • Paper
  • String
  • Scissors

Directions:

Your students should cut some shapes out of their paper. They can use whatever shapes they'd like, but they shouldn't be much larger than the leaves of the plants. Have the kids place the paper over some leaves on the plants. They can use string to secure them if they need to. Have them leave these shapes on for several days and then remove them.

Discussion Points:

What happened to the leaves? They should be faded and drooping beneath the paper, where they couldn't get any sunlight to complete photosynthesis. You can continue this experiment by having your students note the number of days it takes for the leaves to recover. Students can focus on finding out more about leaves and their role in photosynthesis with this lesson on the structure of leaves.

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