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Farmer Scientist: Photosynthesis and Respiration Experiment

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

Have you ever wondered how photosynthesis works? Where does the oxygen we breathe come from? With this easy experiment we can see how leaves absorb energy, water and carbon dioxide to produce food for themselves (glucose) and oxygen!

You can watch the video below, click through the Google Slides link for a fun and educational presentation that is great for students at home or in class, view photos from our experiment, and then follow the instructions to try the experiment yourself!

Watch the video

Google Slides Presentation

Check out our google slides! Feel free to share with your students at home or in class.

Get Inspired!

If you do the experiment at home, we'd love for you to share it with us on social media: tag @grownyc and use the hashtag #GrowNYCEducation


View photos from the photosynthesis experiment:

Before After one hour

Photosynthesis and Respiration Experiment: Instructions Objective: Investigate where the oxygen we breathe comes from and how long it takes for a leaf to absorb sunlight energy in order to produce oxygen and glucose. Material(s) needed:

  • Leaves: you can use any shape or size you want, just make sure it is not crunchy and hard, it has to be recently alive!

  • Water: make sure it isn't ice cold or very hot, this will harm the chlorophyll in the leaves.

  • Tall clear glass: so we can see the process unfold!

  • Lamp or a source of sunlight: this is what powers the process, sun energy that transforms into chemical energy!


  1. Collect leaves and make sure they are soft and green. This means they are still alive and full of chlorophyll that's ready for photosynthesis.

  2. Fill a tall glass with room temperature water.

  3. Submerge your leaves until they are completely underwater. This ensures that the oxygen produced as a byproduct will travel through the water to be released in the air.

  4. Place the glass under a lamp or in a sunny spot.

  5. Wait about 1 hour for oxygen bubbles to form.

  6. Admire the little oxygen farm you've created!

  7. Dump out your water and dispose of your leaves to clean up.

Conclusion: You’ve just experienced basic photosynthesis - the process of a plant converting CO2 and H2O (carbon dioxide and water) into glucose and O2 (sugar and oxygen) with sunlight energy - first hand! The chlorophyll in the leaves absorbed the carbon dioxide in the air and water around it to produce oxygen bubble and glucose for the plant to eat, all by using the energy from the sun.

Every week in November 2020, we will post other experiments that you can do at home, as part of our Farmer Scientist Series. Stay tuned for our next experiment!

Posted by: Sarah Rizvi

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