Monday, 21 February 2011

Plant Science 2: photosynthesis and chlorophyll (my pestle and mortar will never be the same again)

We love those Dorling Kindersley 'How xxxx works'. Even the maths one is great, though I have to confess it's better to read than to attempt any of the maths hands-on things which seem to require a huge amount of preparation.

This is a page out of the plant section of 'How Nature Works'. The experiment to separate out the pigments in plants looks cool, so we decide to give it a bash.


We try several different sorts of plant 'matter'.

Mashed and dissolved (apparently, though ours was more a lumpy mush) in acetone. [May I note here that I actually had to go and buy nail varnish remover. 'Oh I've got some of that' I say. Only to find that the only bottle of nail varnish remover I possess states in large letters on the front 'ACETONE-FREE NAIL VARNISH REMOVER'. Great.]

I would show you the finished blotting paper chromatograms except that they didn't look very good. At all. Nope. They just looked like very pale - almost coloured - damp strips of blotting paper.
So you might as well just look at the ones in the 'How Nature Works' book.
Like all good scientists we looked at why the experiment didn't work.
Our conclusions:
1. We got bored mashing and should have used the liquidizer instead but that would have involved getting a load of plant material and we couldn't be bothered.
2. See 1.

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