MICKLE, JAMES E. Department of Botany, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7612. - LeafLab: A research simulation to foster the studentsí experience in the process of science.
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