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In this activity students observe how respiration affects the gas composition of a closed system. They will discover that as seeds become metabolocally active, the released carbon dioxide diffuses into an indicator dye solution and the dye responds with a radical change in color. Students learn that as seeds germinate they use oxygen to breakdown molecules of sugar and that this reaction (respiration) releases carbon dioxide and water vapor as well as the energy needed for the seeds to wake from dormancy. This activity will also offer students experience with acid/base indicators, an opportunity to germinate seedlings, and a chance to observe the effects of biological processes on closed systems.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Lab activity
  • Atmospheric science
  • Biology
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright The Chedd-Angier Production Company. Each SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS program is accompanied by an online teaching guide filled with science activities and educators are encouraged to download and photocopy these materials for use in the classroom.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-008-202
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 5-8:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Change, constancy, and measurement
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
      • C - Life science:
        • Reproduction and heredity
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Structure of the earth system
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: The Chedd-Angier Production Company, Scientific American Frontiers Television Series

Author: Michael A. DiSpezio
No institutional affiliation