Annex A- Group Research Proposal


 Research Topic (Global Challenge): Pollution (Acid Rain)

 Chosen Area of Focus: The positive and negative effects of acid rain on plants in equatorial rainforests.

 Group Members’ Names:
a) Lynette (Leader)
b) Eunice
c) Sabrina
d) Kimberly

1. Statement of problem (framing our research topic): 

There are many problems faced in today’s world, such as: Extreme poverty, water shortage, and world food shortage.                   

Many people out there are starving and lack clean drinking water as some industrial companies are polluting the environment with their waste products. But not all pollution are made by man, there may be climate change or soils from trees entering and dirtying river bodies, leading to increase of bacteria in the water which may in turn produce more carbon dioxide that will be released into the air and cause acid rain.The acid rain which is produced has many effects on the environment. However, as another twenty first century problem is World Food Shortage, we have decided to investigate on the positive and negative effects of acid rain on plants in the equatorial rainforests as these plants play a huge part in agriculture, a food source. Also, as we are residing in a country near the equator, we decided to research on the equatorial rainforests. 

Plants are extremely reliant upon the pH of the soil around them. The acidity level is most commonly caused by the water that happens to shower upon it, which in this case, the equatorial rainforests' soils are mainly affected by the pH level of rain. Water is essential for processes like cell division, germination, photosynthesis and nutrient uptake--just to list out a few. The pH of a soil can directly impact how each type of plant will best grow but does not directly kill the plants. Instead, it affects the intake of nutrients of the plant. For example, some plants are not adapted to grow in soil that is too acidic, and in the end they might wither and die which in return would cause diminishment in possible food supply. On the other hand, a possible positive effect is that other plants that grow better in acidic soil will flourish in these rainforests, making up for the deforestation that goes on. 

Thus, the problem of acid rain in the world is an imminent one as it is caused by pollution and causes other problems such as World Food Shortage. Our group plans to research on the direct positive and negative effects of acid rain on the equatorial rainforest plants to kill two birds with one stone. 

In conclusion, the root cause for these problems faced today is pollution. Our group plans to research on the direct effects of pollution, specifically acid rain, on the equatorial rainforest environment.

2. Research Objectives (200 words in total)
 We found out that the main source is sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere. And that natural, unpolluted rainwater actually has a pH of about 5.6, which is acidic. Most acid rain deposition ranges from pH 4.3 to 5.0. The acidity of rainwater comes from the natural presence of carbon dioxide, nitric oxide and sulphur oxide that could be found in the lowest layer of the atmosphere.

  The types of plants in the environment, mostly rain-forests, are: Pine, Maple trees (which are weak; brittle), creepers/vines in general near ground level (which are weak and soft)

 The most Equatorial Rain-forests affected by acid rain is the Congo rainforest of Africa. With it falling throughout the year with levels comparable to acid rain falling in Europe and North America.

  According to sources, African fires were the world's leading contributor to pollution coming from the burning of vegetation. African savanna fires are so extensive, he said, that they pump three times more gases and particles into the air than all the fires set by farmers and settlers in South America, including the dramatic fires of the Amazon.  

 So, we are conducting a research to find out how the dilution of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) in water affects the growth of plants in equatorial rainforests and design ways to help the conditions.

 3. Literature Review (Brief summary of at least 3 sources that you have consulted with reference to your research topic)
We sourced out relevant information about the topic. Here is the link for types of rainforest plants in South East Asia. There are many types of plants in the rainforest. However most of them are too big to be able to be brought to school and be tested on. Thus, for easy data collection, we will be using green beans.

In acid rain, the concentration of 3pH sulphuric acid in acid rain is approximately 0.001 Molar. 
0.001 Molar sulphuric acid contains about 0.1 grams of sulphuric acid per liter of solution. That is about 0.01% solution by weight [or 100 parts-per notation (or 100ppm)]

4. Proposed Hypotheses

Our hypothesis: 
Based on our current knowledge, we assume that the plants would not be able to survive highly concentrated acids and in too alkali environment too. We also assume some of the sources of the pollution that causes the acid rain come from man-made pollution, like by-products from factories and poor disposal of rubbish. When the soil in the forest is exposed to the acid rain, we assume the acidity of the soil would remain very acidic, and the plant would not be able to survive well in that aciding condition, unless they adapt to the harsh conditions.

5. Research Plan (Describe how you intend to design your research i.e. who/what you are going to research on, how many respondents, your study area/location etc)

We intend to do an experiment to find out the immediate effects of acid rain on the plants in the equatorial rainforest. 

First, we will choose a species of plant to be experimented on and buy 3-4 (2 are only for emergency needs) of the same plant. We would then plant 2 of the plants in soil similar to that of the rainforest ground in 2 separate set-ups. We would then water it with the right amount of water that a typical plant in the rainforest would receive per day. The plant would be placed somewhere with ample sunshine. However, one of the set-ups will be watered with a stimulated acid rain (which we will mix the right proportion of sulfuric+nitric acid with water). 

After we complete the set up, we will record the observations of the plants. For example, we will take note of the height, colour of the different parts of the plants, and the number of leaves left on each plant every day. 

From the results collected, we will then check our hypothesis and, if need be, change it to infer from the data. 

6. Analysis of data
We recorded the height of the green bean plants after they have germinated anf started to be watered with different dilutions of sulohuric acid. 
We observed that on average, the plants with lower dilutions grew the least, wheareas the ones with highest dilutions grew the most.

The plants in group A, which received a dilution of 0.001 molar, generally grew the most by the end of the experiment and they grew an average of one centimeter per day. The plants in group B, which received a dilution of 0.003 molar, generally grew an average of half a centimeter per day on average. The plants in group C, which received a dilution of 0.005 molar, hardly grew at all only with slight hight change. The plants in group D, which received a dilution of 0.007 molar, generally decreased in height by approximately one quarter centimeter per day on average. The plants in group E, the control, generally grew one and a half centimeter per day on average. One plant died in group D on March 14, 2014.
We observed that there is a significant difference between the plants that received different dilutions of the acid. As seen in the data below.
Fig 1.1 (Data Collected)

7. Research Schedule

Fig 1.2 (Research Schedule)

8. Overall assessment on feasibility and manageability of the research (justify why your research can be managed and results be achieved within the time-frame)
Our research can be managed and the results can be achieved within the time-frame as the data collection will not take that long, only a few days. As we are using green beans, they do not take that long to grow (2-4 days average) and we can start our experiment/data collection quickly. With the grown seedlings, we will then only need a few consecutive days of watering the plants with the respective amount of simulated acid rain to collect the observations and results we need. As a result, the total days needed for this data collection is only about 1 week, well within the time-frame.


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