Ms. Tallent demonstrates how to submerge a leaf with a popsicle stick

As any great educator knows, hands-on experiments help students grasp abstract concepts and elevate their learning.

At Enka Middle School, eighth grade science teacher Martha Tallent created a memorable demonstration about cellular respiration using marigold leaves. During the lab, students filled beakers with warm water and used popsicle sticks to keep the leaves submerged. They watched as bubbles appeared on the underside of the leaves. As Ms. Tallent explained, a leaf’s surface is full of pores (called stomata) that take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis.
“We’ve been experiencing photosynthesis and cellular respiration with a lot of experiments,” Ms. Tallent said. “I want them to think about this when they see a leaf on a tree. There’s a lot going on there.”
Ms. Tallent invites students to challenge themselves, take risks, and do their best. She finds different ways to connect with each student’s learning style, and she tests their knowledge by asking them to teach each other.
“We’re not afraid to fail and try again until we get it right,” she said. “We use all sorts of methods to reinforce the lessons and make the learning real.”