LeafLab is a newly developed on-line simulation program for the study of photosynthesis. The program simulates use of an infrared gas analyzer that measures rate of net CO2 absorption. Plant variables include C3 vs. C4 photosynthesis, shade vs. direct sunlight, and ploidy level under parameters including light intensity, light quality, temperature, gas flow, and carbon dioxide concentration. Data collected from these virtual experiments are calculated to determine photosynthetic rates. The simulation is based on published data and permits students to run a variety of experiments under various conditions. The program also has graphing capacity so that students can compare and interpret multiple experiments. An advantage to this system is that physiological principles can be taught without purchase of expensive, single-use equipment. Students observed using this program have gained insight into both the scientific method and environmental parameters that affect photosynthesis.

Key words: leaf, LeafLab, learning, photosynthesis, process of science, research simulation, teaching