Freshmen record leaf color changes as school project at home

Caryanne Shaw, Staff Reporter

School projects were common back when school was in person. This year, teachers have to come up with different ways to include these projects with virtual learning taking place. Freshmen Ashley Huang and Lydia Showalter are students in STEM Biology this semester, and have both been a part of the Tree Dairy experiment that their teacher introduced.

The project is to collect data from a branch of a tree of our choice on how it changes over the course of four weeks. We do this by taking a picture of that branch and observing how the leaves look on it,” Huang said.

The freshmen also had a special assignment to complete each week to go along with it.

The first week we had to make a map of where our tree is, and the second week we had to sit and observe two sounds, two smells and two things that we saw,” Showalter said.

Freshman Eljeron Bonga doesn’t enjoy having to complete the special assignment each week.

“Though there is [a] special project that is different every week, it’s not something that I look forward to. I don’t like [that] the assignment itself is [so] plain and simple. There’s nothing I look forward to doing when I do the assignment. The assignment itself is just kind of boring,” Bonga said.

Showalter has enjoyed this project overall, but there are some downsides for her.

“I picked a tree a bike-ride away from my house, so sometimes it’s hard to get to it at a good time. Also, in order to get optimal data, it’s best to document the tree on the same day each week. I was traveling on my chosen day, so I wasn’t able to get the pictures. It wasn’t a big deal, but it will make a difference,” Showalter said.

Freshman William Deloney doesn’t like how long the project is. Since students are documenting how the leaves change color, the project can’t be done all at once. It ends up taking a month to complete.

I also don’t like how we can’t do it all at once and have to wait a week to make any progress,” Deloney said.

Freshman Rylee Stroop believes that this project correlates to what the students are learning in biology right now, which is photosynthesis in plant cells.

We are learning about photosynthesis which happens in plants [and] how plants use ATP, so when the leaves change they lose their color which is chlorophyll. That relates to what we are learning about,” Stroop said.

The students have learned about how leaves change during the fall from this project. Stroop focused on how the leaves change color.

“Something that I learned about the tree is the color change starts at the top and goes to the bottom, which I find pretty cool. It looks like a waterfall of red,” Stroop said.

Unlike Stroop, Huang learned more about the why side of the experiment by figuring out the chemistry behind it.

“I’ve learned from this project that there are two types of chlorophyll, A and B. I also learned the molecular formula of the chemicals that cause the different colors in leaves,” Huang said. 

Though there were downsides to this project for the students, they all liked some aspects of it. Bonga and Showalter enjoyed being outside to take the pictures.

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