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Why Do the Colors of Leaves Change in the Fall?

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Portable Document Format
Average Rating
4.0 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings.
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Description The color change of the leaves on deciduous trees is one of the most striking signals that summer is ending and fall is beginning. What is it that causes this change in color? We all know that leaves contain chlorophyll – giving them their green-color but why do they change from green to the palette of colors we see in the fall? In this investigation students determine the pigment molecules that green plants contain and what happens to those molecules as the season progresses.
Type of Resource Laboratory or Hands-On Activity, Lesson Plan
Format Portable Document Format - PDF
Technical Note Adobe Acrobat
William White, Arsenal Technical High School
Development Date August 1, 2000
Grade/Age Levels High School upper division (Grades 11-12)
High School lower division (Grades 9-10)
Middle School (Grades 6-8)
National Science
Educational Standards
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (K-12), Matter, energy, and organization in living systems (9-12), Structure and function in living systems (5-8), Understandings about scientific inquiry (K-12)
Learning Time 4-6 hours
Language English
Type of Review Reviewed By Staff
Review Date January 12, 2007
Suggested Use

This resource is an excellent investigation for students to learn hands-on about many aspects of Biology.  The student is developing skills in data collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation.  What I appreciate the most about this resource is that it is a student-centered investigation. 

The only concern I have is the designation for middle school grades 6-8.  It seems this resource would be better suited to AP Biology or Honors Biology students, due to the maturity and knowledge necessary to conduct the investigations and inquiry. 

I plan to use this resource with my AP Biology students who are in 11th and 12th grade.

Thank you for posting, excellent resource.

Cathia Acton, The Burlington School

This is a thorough lab of pigments in leaves. It is well suited for high school biology and undergrad bio (probably lower level like non majors lab), but I think a bit too complex for middle school for the entire lab. Perhaps just the chromatography part would ok for middle school. I'm concerned some K-12 institutions may not have all the necessary equipement, like all the chemicals or a spec. More detail on determining concentrations in the spec. part would be helpful. But overall, I think this is a wonderful lab assuming the equipment is available.

Danielle Plomaritas, Liberty University


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