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Trees act as large solar panels – Calculate the area of the leaves

Suitable For

Grade 7



Time Required

 <2 Days



What’s it about?

Plants use sunlight to convert it into energy in a process called ‘photosynthesis’. A plant takes in water and carbon dioxide through their roots and leaves, which is needed to form glucose, a sugar that living organisms break down to produce energy.

Using energy from the sun, plants rearrange water and carbon dioxide to form sugar or ‘energy’ thus, the leaves of a plant or a tree and can be seen as miniature sunlight collectors or solar panels. Use the method in this science experiment to calculate the total area of all the leaves of a tree to see how large a solar panel it would make:

Topics covered

Photosynthesis, Chlorophyll, PV (Photovoltaic) Panels

What will I need?


Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

In this science experiment the leaves of a plant or a tree is compared to a solar panel, because both uses sunlight to convert it into a kind of energy. Solar panels, also called PV panels, concerts the sun’s energy into electrical energy, whereas the leaves of a plant converts the sunlight into a kind of chemical energy, which changes starches into sugars during a process called ‘photosynthesis’. Leafs are much more efficient in utilizing the sun’s energy and uses almost every bit of it. Solar panels only turn a small fraction of sunlight into electricity.

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