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Nealy Nuessner – Virtual Northwest Arkansas Regional Science & Engineering Fair Junior Level Winner University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

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Nealy Nuessner, Bergman Middle School, Bergman, AR

Mentor: Stacy Williams

Category: Plant Sciences

Project Title: Using pigment to determine the amount of sunlight needed for house plants

The purpose of this project was to use chromatography to determine the amount of sunlight house plants need to survive. I used color rankings of the pigments and chromatography to tell the amount of chlorophyll in the plant to see if each plant needed a more sunlit area. I put the leaves I numbered into the rubbing alcohol to let sit. After that, I extracted the chlorophyll from the beaker and placed the pigment onto the chromatography paper. When the paper dried, I observed the amount of chlorophyll that had shown up on the piece of paper. I ranked the pieces of paper based on how much pigment had shown up. Then I researched the amount of sunlight recommended for each individual house plant. With that information, I determined the percentage of correct guesses of amount of sunlight needed to compare to the amount of sunlight recommended by botanists. The data showed that the amount of sunlight needed for each houseplant can be determined by the amount of chlorophyll in it. 75% of my predictions were correct and 25% were incorrect based on the results of my experiment. Both the claims I made were supported based on the experiment I conducted. I made the predictions based on what I assumed for the right amount of sunlight needed for the plant’s survival compared to what botanists suggested. My predictions were based on the color extraction from the leaves and chromatography. From the results of my data, I believe that chromatography can be used to separate the pigments of different plants and to determine how much sunlight is needed for each plant.

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