Shoreline Community College Flower Dissection and Biomimicry Lab Report

Question Description

Lab 6 Flower Dissection; and Biomimicry: Is Heliotropism Advantageous for Plants?

15 points total

Notes for This Lab

  • Complete this lab as an individual. While you may communicate with other students on the lab, you must ultimately write your own answers.
  • In your own words, what is biomimicry?
  • In one sentence, summarize your favorite example of biomimicry.


  • To identify plant anatomy
  • To quantify the effect of the east-west angle of the sun on the power output of a solar panel, and to relate this to effect of heliotropism in plants
  • To reflect upon biomimicry as it relates to technologies that promote and/or impede sustainability


Biodiversity has been sustained on Earth for at least 3.5 billion years regardless of environmental changes. This successful evolutionary history is marked with great biological innovations by organisms developing structural features and processes that constantly meet their environmental requirements. For example, many plant species have adapted to maintain optimal sunlight in order to maximize the processes of photosynthesis, flowering, pollination, and fruit development. In this lab, you will learn the mechanism used by plants to capture light energy with maximum efficiency and to apply this mechanism in finding sustainable solutions for acquiring renewable energy from the sun. We need to replicate time-tested and sustainable plant strategies like biomimicry and photosynthesis if we want to meet our long-term needs with little environmental impacts and increased efficiency.

Pre-lab (4 points)

After completing the pre-lab, please take the Pre-lab Quiz on Canvas by the due date. If you type your answers on this document, you can copy-paste text into Canvas.

Question 1: Read the 4-page article “Inspired by Nature” by Deborah J. Knight. This article is posted in the same location as this lab.

Question 2: What is heliotropism in plants? You will need to conduct some online research. Because this is considered common knowledge, you do not need to cite your source.

Question 3: Do you think heliotropism is advantageous for plants? Draw a curve on the blank graph below to predict the effect of the angle of the sun on the power output of a fixed (stationary) solar panel. Imagine the solar panel is placed at the 90 degree location, on the X-axis, with the sun ‘rising in the east’ at 0 degrees, and moving across the graph to ‘set in the west’ at 180 degrees. Take a picture or screen shot of your graph, and be prepared to upload it into Canvas. There is no right or wrong hypothesis.

Question 4: You will need a program for graphing data in this lab. As part of your pre-lab, please make sure you have access to either Excel or Google Sheets. For a free student download of Microsoft Office, please see the last page of this file. In the quiz, you will be asked if you have a program for graphing data.

________________Pre-lab ends here, but please read the rest of the lab________________

Lab (11 points)

Please type or paste answers to questions directly on this document, which you will submit by the due date.

Flower “dissection” (2 points)

Let’s start by examining flower anatomy. Refer to image below (Textbook Figure 16.17: Structure of a Flower, from your textbook) to assist you.

Question 4: Select one of two options for this question. (2 points)

  • Option 1: Go outside using the social distancing policies. Find a flower and take 2 close pictures of it, one from the side and one from above (looking into the flower). Alternatively, if the flower is in your private residence, you can pick it, dissect it (pull the parts off with your fingers), and take one picture of the different parts. Save the image(s) onto your computer and open them in Paint or other software. Label as many of the following structures as you can: receptacle, sepals, petals, stamens, filaments, anthers, carpel, stigma, style, and ovary. Note that your flower may differ from the textbook image. Save the file. Copy paste your labeled image(s) in the space below.
  • Option 2: Use the Trillium images below. Save this image onto your computer (right click the image and save as a picture) and open the image in Paint or other software. Label as many of the following structures as you can: receptacle, sepals, petals, stamens, filaments, anthers, carpel, stigma, style, and ovary. Save the file. Copy paste your labeled images in the space below.

Determine the Effect of the Angle of the Sun on the Power Output of a Solar Panel

To obtain the data for this experiment, we used a set up similar to that shown in the photo below. We used an incandescent lamp to represent the sun. A mini solar panel was placed at a fixed distance away from the lamp. We connected the solar panel to a multimeter, which is used to measure current and voltage. The current and voltage were measured from 0 to 180 degrees in increments of 10 degrees. We measured the angle of which the lamp shined on the solar panel using a protractor. A string was connected to the protractor to measure the exact angle from the lamp. In the image below, the lamp is at a 90-degree angle to the solar panel.

Question 5: Calculate Power in the data table below. Power (measured in Watts) is calculated by multiplying Voltage (in Volts) times Current (in Amps). We have filled in a couple of examples for you to check your math. To learn how to use formulas in Excel, please watch Excel: Intro to Formulas. (1 point)


Voltage (Volts)

Current (Amps)

Power (watts)




























































Question 6: In Excel, Google Sheets, or other graphing program, graph the relationship between the angle of the sun (x-axis) and power output (y-axis). You will need to create a “scatter” plot. See the Help with Excel at the end of this file or watch the first 2.5 minutes of Creating an XY Scatter Plot in Excel to learn how to do this in Excel. For Google Sheets, please watch How to Make a Graph in Google Sheets (Scatter Plot). Make sure that your axes are labeled and that your graph has a title. Paste the graph in the space below. (2 points)

Question 7: Describe the trend you see, including the specific shape of a trendline that would fit your data, and explain the advantage of using solar PV panels that track the daily sun movement from east to west. (1 point)

Post-Lab Questions (5 points)

Question 8: Most solar panels are fixed (stationary). What is a disadvantage of using a tracking solar panel? Read the highlighted portions of Tracked by Justine Sanchez. This article is posted in the same location as this lab. (1 point)

Question 9: Suggest at least two types of leaf heliotropism for leaves. Under what conditions might each be advantageous? Feel free to conduct some internet research and include a citation in MLA format for any source you use. (1 point)

Question 10: Some flowers (like sunflowers) track the sun. Suggest two advantages flower heliotropism might have. Then, conduct some internet research to determine whether your hypotheses are supported. Include a citation in MLA format for any source you use. (1 point)

Question 11: Spend several minutes writing a short paragraph (100-200 words) reflecting on this lab. To start, think about the following questions: What did you learn from this lab? Was your original prediction regarding the effect of the angle of the sun on power output of solar panels supported by your experiment? Look at the shape, steepness of the curve, the tails, and so on. How does this lab relate to the article you read about biomimicry? How might we, as individuals and as a society, apply biomimicry concepts? You must address how biomimicry, both in this lab and in general, might relate to technologies that promote and/or impede sustainability. (2 points)

Prof. Angela


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