Light as Energy: Photosynthesis

What does the fact that spinach fluoresces have to do with photosynthesis? This simple and visually dramatic demonstration we’ll extract chlorophyll from the leaves of spinach and see that it teaches us about how plants gather and store energy from sunlight.

Grade Range: 1 to 12+

Duration: 1/2 Hour – 1 Hour


  • 6-8 fresh spinach leaves
  • A red, green and violet laser like Laser Blox
  • Several table spoons
  • Ethanol
  • Mortar and pestle

NGSS Connections

PS4: Electromagnetic Radiation

  • Evaluate the validity and reliability of claims in published materials of the effects that different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation have when absorbed by matter (HS-PS4-4)

LS1: Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

  • Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of mater and flow of energy into and out of organisms (MS-LS1-6)
  • Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy (HS-LS1-5)
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