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Energy Storage in Plants: Should Biofuels Be Made from Seeds or Leaves and Stems?

The investigation involves students determining where plants store potential energy (a.k.a., chemical energy). In the investigation, students will grow rapid cycling Brassica rapa plants and observe that the dry weight (mass) increases because of photosynthesis. They will measure the amount of energy stored in seeds and vegetative tissues by using a simple calorimeter. The information collected by the students is evaluated as it relates to potential sources of biofuels.
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Resource Group Biofuels
Primary or BEN resource type
Secondary resource type
General Biology Core Concepts
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords biofuel, Brassica rapa, calorimeter, energy, photosynthesis, potential energy
Key taxa Brassica rapa
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Description The students make calorimetry measurements and dry weight measurements to show that plants gain mass and energy through the process of photosynthesis. Elements of directed inquiry are used because the students are not given the expected results of their experiments. The student are asked to relate their results to the summary equation of photosynthesis.
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Biology Department
University of Detroit Mercy
4001 W. McNichols Rd.
Detroit, MI 48221
Primary Author email
Secondary Author Name(s) Eric Spicuzza
Secondary Author Affiliation(s) Biology Department
University of Detroit Mercy
4001 W. McNichols Rd.
Detroit, MI 48221
Secondary Author Email(s)
Submitter Name Stokes S. Baker
Submitter Email
Rights The author retains the copyright for all submitted material.
Date Of Record Submission 2016-04-02

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