plant lab

Peter J Harris P.J.Harris at
Wed May 22 06:46:46 EST 1996

Judy.Schmalstig at Rollins.Edu ("Dr. Judy Schmalstig") wrote:
>Date:          Thu, 09 May 1996 05:55:31 -0700
>From:          John_M_BROWNING at (jb189)
>Subject:       plant lab
>To:            plant-ed at
>We are developing a plant biology lab for non-science students dealing with
>botanical products.  The idea is for students to conduct experiments that
>illustrate how products they use are developed from plants.  Do you know of any
>experiments we could use?  We plan to do one experiment where we distill
>plant material to get oils for perfumes.  We need something else to fill the
>time.  If you have any ideas, please let me know.  Thanks in advance.
>                                John Browning
>                                University of Maryland, College Park
>                                jb189 at
>Dear plant-netters,
>I have done a plant products lab with non-majors in which we made 
>wine from grapes.  Blend grapes in the blender, filter through 
>cheesecloth,  to obtain 400 ml juice.  Adjust the juice to specific 
>gravity 1.08-1.11(11%-13% potential alcohol) by adding sugar if 
>necessary.  As a guide, 13.5 g of sugar will increase the specific 
>gravity of 400 ml of juice by about 0.01.  Use a wine hydrometer to
> measure specific gravity.  Add 1/4 teaspoon of ammonium phosphate
> and 1/8 wine yeast if desired.  The mixture is fermentated in a 500 
>ml glass 
>bottle with a balloon over the top.  After one week, measure specific
>gravity again to calculate % alcohol and taste if you dare!
>We also make recycled paper.  Some students added rose petals and 
>mint leaves.
>  Judy Schmalstig
>jschmals at
>Dept of Biology
>Rollins College
>1000 Holt Ave
>Winter Park, FL 32789
A corny old expt but makes the fundamental point that plants make 
carbohydrates. Cover portions of leaves with identifiable shaped masks. 
Leave for a day or two and then test for starch formation with iodine 

Even more fun would be to get them to produce some indigo. For this you 
need either indigo or Woad (Isatis tinctoria). Boil up the leaves in soft 
water. Strain off liquor, reduce the pigment with ammonia and sodium 
dithionite, dip in some cotton fabric, boil up again and then remove 
SLOWLY from the vat and watch the indigo turn blue as the oxygen gets to 
it. If you have any problems over supply get in touch with your nearest 
group of weavers, spinners and dyers.

Good luck,
Peter Harris

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