Conversations - use this space to communicate about this project
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April 25, 2011 | 8:02 AM |
Dr. Catrina Adams
Farewell and Best Wishes
As this research project is now in the final stages of wrapping-up, we wish to thank everyone who participated in this inquiry; the students, mentors, teachers and others behind the scenes. We appreciate all of your efforts and contributions to this online learning community.
Scientific exploration is a process of discovery that can be fun! There are many unanswered questions about plants just waiting for new scientists to consider, investigate, and share.
Please come back and visit the PlantingScience Research Gallery Archive anytime to view this project in the future. You can search the Archive by key word, team name, topic, or school name.
Good bye for now.
The PlantingScience team
March 23, 2011 | 8:42 AM |
Objectives and experiments
Hi team - here are some details about light and photosynthesis that might be useful in thinking about your experiment.
First, plants absorb light across the visible spectrum, from low energy (long wavelengths like red) to high energy (short wavelengths like violet). Even some green is absorbed, but mostly it is reflected, meaning that energy at this wavelength is not taken up by the plant. So, thinking about your prediction - if the plant is not using the green light anyway, will removing it make much of a difference?
Second (this is something that most people don't know until they really get into plant biochemistry and physics) once the plant absorbs the light - whatever the color across the spectrum - it gets converted to red light at one of two wavelengths inside the plant (680 and 700 nanometers, long wavelengths that are in the red part of the spectrum). The light-powered chemical reactions in the plant will use only these wavelengths. If you shine a different color light on the plant - yellow, green, blue, etc. - the plant will absorb it to some degree, but it will have to "stretch out" the wavelength of the photon (i.e. light particle) for it to be useful. Plants perform this "stretching out" by bouncing the photons back and forth between pigment molecules in the chloroplast. With each "bounce" some energy is lost, and the wavelength gets longer, and the color of the photon is changed until it reaches the right wavelength (680 or 700 nm) for photochemistry. So think about this - a plant could (arguably) photosynthesize at any color of light with a wavelength shorter than 680 nm, but it does not absorb all of these wavelengths with equal efficiciency. So how many extra photons would need to be provided with green light, vs red or blue?
In terms of setting up your experiment, the basic questions are 1) how will you measure the rate of photosynthesis? and 2) how will you provide light at the colors (wavelengths) that you want to investigate?
My career in botany (actually plant molecular physiology) - I came to it in a very roundabout way. I went to college to study engineering and found shortly that I was not very interested in it. I needed to choose a different course of study, and I though agriculture was both practical and interesting. After my first year of study in agriculture, the professors asked me to stay on during the summers to help with research projects, mostly field studies on different crops and how they grow. Soon I was spending as much time assisting in the lab or the field as I spent in class. By the time I was ready to graduate, I had decided I wanted to teach and design experiments - this meant spending another 5-6 years earning a PhD. Following graduation, I moved to another university and switched from studying agricuture to basic plant sciences, like physiology, biochemistry, and genetics.
Becoming a professional research biologist is a long process, so you have to be prepared for the work!
March 16, 2011 | 6:50 AM |
Sorry it took us so long to update our project information. We have just entered our research question and hypothesis. We are looking for any input and guidance you may have. What made you want to start a career and botany? Why did you choose to be a mentor on planting science? We are looking forward to your response.
Nancy, Shaun, Brandon, & Nick
March 14, 2011 | 6:21 AM |
I have yet to hear from you - Perhaps you could update your project if things are in progress. My job as a mentor is to ask a lot of questions, and the first is "do you have a project, and could you describe it for me?"
March 3, 2011 | 3:20 PM |
Dr. Claire Hemingway
I am happy to welcome you to this community of plant researchers. Your team has the opportunity to be mentored by a scientist to help you develop and perform your own research project. The mentor's role is to encourage and guide you through the scientific process of discovery. The more you share your ideas and research information online, the more your mentor can help.
Your scientist mentor for this project will be Dr. Mark Schoenbeck from University of Nebraska at Omaha. Please introduce yourself and post some possible research topic ideas to get a conversation rolling.
These resources are available to help you get started:
Thinking Like a Scientist / Working Like a Scientist
Guide to Using A Spreadsheet
Best wishes as you start this scientific journey. We are all pleased to share this experience with you.
The PlantingScience team