Acid Rain Lab - Fulton County Schools

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Acid Rain Lab
Background: Acid rain is a problem throughout the world where particles released from the burning of fossil fuels
(SO2 & NO) combine with water vapor in the air to produce precipitation with a lower pH of approximately 4.5.
H2SO4 & HNO3 are the acids that are produced. These are very strong acids. In this simulation we will use a
strong acid, but not one nearly as strong as the two mentioned previously.
Acid rain affects many aspects of a natural world, but it seems to affect plant life the most. Plants stop growing
and are sometimes unable to gather the minerals and nutrients provided to them by the soil that they live in. Why?
Basically, the nutrients and minerals are not longer there. The acid will dissolve them and allow them to pass
through the soil more quickly.
In this lab activity you will design a lab that will show the affects of acid rain on established plants as well as see if
acid rain affects germination, the process of a seed sprouting to become a new plant.
Materials:
radish seeds
potting soil
clear plastic cups
masking tape
markers
water
vinegar
constant light source
Hypotheses:
If __________________________________________________________________________________________
Then _______________________________________________________________________________________
Because ____________________________________________________________________________________
Dependent Variable _________________, Independent Variable _________________, Control ______________
Procedure:
1. Label 3 Clear plastic cups A, B, or C with masking tape and marker.
2. Fill each cup with potting soil.
3. With your finger, make a hole 4 cm deep in the soil.
4. Place 5 seeds in each hole.
5. Carefully cover the seeds with soil.
6. In cups A and B, water the seeds with 50 ml of water.
7. In cup C, water the seeds with 50 ml of vinegar.
8. Place your pots in the indoor growing area designated by your teacher.
9. Check your plants each day. Measure their growth every three days in centimeters. Write this information on
your chart.
10. Add 20 ml of water every other day to cup A and B. Add 20 ml of vinegar to pot C every other day.
11. After one week, continue to water only pot A with 20 ml of water every other day. Water pots B and C with
20 ml of vinegar every other day.
12. Continue measuring and recording plant growth every three days.
13. Take the last measurements on the 21st day and then measure the pH of the soil in each of the cup.
14. Create a data table and bar graph to display your results.
Safety:
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Data: Define the two types of data
Qualitative
Quantitative
What type of data are you collecting in this lab? ____________________________________
Radish Seed /Plant Growth
table 1
Growth in cm
Date
A
B
Growth in cm
C
Date
A
B
C
Analysis:
What were your conclusions for this experiment?
What could you infer based on your conclusions?
Compare what the plants in pot B looked like when given only water to what they looked like when you
began giving them vinegar.
How would you design this experiment differently the next time?
Conclusion: Address the following questions as you describe the impact of acid rain on an ecosystem.
What is acid rain? What effects did the acid rain have on the seed/plants? What impact might this have on animal
life? What impact might acid rain have on aquatic ecosystems? Use all of the following terms in your analysis pH,
acid rain, roots, nutrients, water vapor, soil, germination, ecosystem, and fossil fuels. Highlight the
words in your paragraph.
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