Annex A - Group Research Proposal

Group Project Proposal (Science)


Names: Dion Lum Qiuyu, Lim Yi Zhen, Yong E-Shean

Class: S2-04

Group Reference: E

A.    Indicate the type of research that you are adopting:

[    ] Test a hypothesis: Hypothesis-driven research

[    ] Measure a value: Experimental research (I)

[ X  ] Measure a function or relationship: Experimental research (II)

[    ] Construct a model: Theoretical sciences and applied mathematics

[    ] Observational and exploratory research

  1. Type & Category

Type of research: (3)  (Write down one number from 1 to 6)

Category  –  (16)  (Write down one number from 7 to 20)

Sub-category – (c)  (Write down the sub-heading alphabet)

Application of project relevant to SST Community, Society or the World:
     Representatives of the Lemnaceae, the Duckweed family, are well-adapted for use as bioindicators for testing soil and water for toxic substances.  Their rapid multiplication and the simplicity of their anatomy are important advantages for this usage ( L.V, 2002 ). Hence, we are using this plant as a bioindicator to show how duckweed will respond to the level of salinity within each container of water in the experiment. Duckweed is the smallest flowering plant and lives only in aquatic environments and is known for its ability to spread rapidly over the surface of water bodies. It is often considered a pest or weed. However, it is also used in environmental remediation  (which refers to reducing pollution from a contaminated source. It also can be based on human health and ecological risks[wikipedia, 2016]) because it takes up excess nitrogen and phosphorous from the water (Apfel, A. 2016). Duckweeds are freshwater plants (glycophytes) that do not tolerate high salt conditions (L. T. 2002). Hence, changes such as the yellowing of leaves and withering of the plant that will more than likely occur throughout the experiment. The growth can also be stunted, quoting from Kirchhoff, H. (2016), an ehow contributor. These are often the changes in plants that are given excessive amounts of salt. Duckweed is also cheap and simple to grow with little maintenance required. To top it off, they are also fast-growing and fast-changing so changes can be identified within a short period of time hence reducing the need for a long wait.

    From here, duckweed can then be used as part of a monitoring device/bioindicator to monitor the pollution of various water bodies. This can help to reduce the chances of disasters such as the Minamata Disaster in Japan from recurring. The Minamata Disaster in Japan occurred due to the contamination of water by factory waste that was flushed into the Minamata Bay. The fish in the bay area consumed the mercury that had been flushed into the bay, which in turn poisoned the locals who consumed the fish on a regular basis. This information can be backed by the book written by Tsuda, T., Yorifuji, T., Takao, S., Miryai, M., & Babazono, A. (2009), which showed in a table in the book that a lot of the patients who had come down with weird body abnormalities had the occupation of fishing with fewer patients that were in other occupations such as farming. Henceforth, one way to utilize the duckweed is by breeding the plants in water samples from the water source and when changes occur, it would indicate that the water has pollutants/the composition of the water has changed, alerting the people. In our experiment, the pollutant used would be salt.

    From this information, we have hence identified duckweed to be ideal as a bioindicator to indicate water bodies which are polluted. Therefore, our experiment will determine whether duckweed is indeed effective as a bioindicator to detect pollutants in water, by experimenting how it grows in different salt concentrations to identify the changes that might occur in the plant.

C.    Write down your research title:

Investigation of the growth of Duckweed in different salt concentrations.

D.   (a) Aim / question being addressed 

The aim is to find out how much salt content Duckweed can withstand as a freshwater plant.  We would also try to find the optimal salt concentration needed for Duckweed to grow healthily.

(b) Independent variable

The independent variable is the amount of salt in the water (salt content of water). Refer to figure 3.1 for exact measurements.

(c) Dependent variable

The dependent variable is the number of duckweed leaves.

(d) Controlled variables

  1. The Plant that is being used.
  2. The containers used to store the plants
  3. Where the plants are being placed (conditions)
  4. Amount of water in each container
  5. Number and size (as much as possible) of holes in the shrink wrap
  6. Type of stirrer used (and how much the solution is stirred)
  7. Initial number of plants in each container.

      (e) Hypotheses

The more salt that is added, the less healthy the Duckweed plant will be, hence, fewer number of leaves will be observed from the plant which grows in water with a higher concentration of salt (Unhealthy symptoms include yellow leaves, dry bristled leaves and lack of growth).

E.    Method – Description in detail of method or procedures (The following are important and key items that should be included when formulating ANY AND ALL research plans.)

(a) Equipment list:
  • Translucent containers  x19
  • SEA SALT (from school lab)  ----> 81 g
  • Plastic Disposable Party Spoons (Stirrer) ≈ x21g
  • Duckweed (the plant) x152
  • Water ---- School pond water -----> 3,800 ml
  • Measuring scale (to measure the amount of salt ) x1
  • Measuring cylinder ( to measure the amount of water ) x1
  • Roll of Shrink wrap (to cover up the mouth of the container and to poke holes) x1

(b) Diagrams

Fig. 1.1: A diagram explaining our procedure. The diagram labels the components of a container of the set-up (that will be applied for all the set-ups). This figure will ensure that we will not go wrong when setting up.

Fig. 2.1: Overall set-up shown above. 6+1 main set-ups. For it to be a fair test, it would be 1+2 for each set-up, then we can proceed on to find the average.

(c) Procedures: Detail all procedures and experimental design to be used for data collection
  1. 16 transparent/translucent containers will be used for this experiment. Each beaker will receive 3 Duckweeds. One beaker will be used as the control set-up. The control set-up will not contain any salt (0g).The rest of the beakers will receive varied amounts of salt. The salt used in this experiment will be Sea Salt. The Salt used will stay constant throughout the experiment. The beakers will be labelled (A1, A2, A3, B1, B2…  … ) accordingly. Beaker (A) will receive (7g) of salt,  Beaker (B) will receive (14g) of salt and so and so on (refer to table below). For each label, there are 3 container set-ups to ensure that the results are as accurate as possible.
  2. All the beakers will be left at the school lab (?) and we will check on it every 3 days (due to the inability to visit the labs during the weekends) to take down data (number of leaves and to take pictures and note down observations of it on school days. All this information will be placed into the shared google spreadsheet, the former plotted into a graph and the latter in a table.
  3. After one or two weeks (depending on how the duckweed responds in the salt water), we will chart out the information collected in the spreadsheet. There will also be a table where which remarks such as the yellowing or the wilting of leaves or maybe sped up growth can be recorded down and added into our findings.

Beaker (200ml in size)
Amount of Salt Received (In grams)
Water (In ml)
(Control Set-Up) CS1
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water
200 ml of water

Figure 3.1: Shown above is a table pertaining the data of each set-up. It shows how much salt:water there is in each set-up and is a table form of figure 2.1 that is seen on page 5.

(d) Risk, Assessment and Management: Identify any potential risks and safety precautions to be taken.

Table 3: Risk Assessment and Management table

Spilled water (When setting up experiment) may be a slipping hazard and can cause us to be seriously injured. (to a certain extent)
Be careful when setting up experiment, ensure that other group members are around before starting with the experiment so as to look out for each other and assist each other when the risk occurs (wipe up the water)
When poking holes into the shrink wrap, ensure that one is careful to not poke oneself (because we are using a sharp object e.g. pen)
Do not point the sharp tip of the item used to poke the shrink wrap at other people and have a chaperone look out for you at all times when handling the sharp object
When dealing with salt water, some of the saline water may enter our eyes or open wounds, which may cause us some degree of hurt and pain.
Ensure that we do not allow any opportunities for the salt water to enter our eyes or open wounds. Also, we must be more careful when dealing with water with higher concentrations of salt.
Mosquitoes may breed in the water that contains the duckweed (stagnant water left for a long amount of time). The mosquitoes may cause a spread of diseases such as dengue.
We will use shrink wrap to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. There will be small holes poked onto the surface of the shrink wrap to allow airflow while preventing the breeding of mosquitoes in the container being used.
As we are using artificial light sources for our experiment and the fact that water will be utilized for the experiment might lead to the risk of electrocution. Less there be a water spillage, we might risk getting electrocuted.
Firstly, the shrink wrap used will minimize the flow of water if a set-up falls over. Secondly, during the real experiment, we will place the set-ups onto a piece of cardboard, reducing the risk of others bumping into it while absorbing some of the water into itself. Thirdly, we can move the light sources away when setting up the experiment.

(e) Data Analysis: Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results that answer research questions or hypotheses

  1. Every day, one person will take individual photos and an overall photo of the plants. The number of leaves on each plant will be counted every 3 days (because of the weekends)
  2. The number of leaves noted down on the third day will be placed into the shared google spreadsheet.
  3. Note down any big or distinctable changes in the remarks session of the table in the shared spreadsheet(e.g. withered leaves or a reduced growth rate of the plant etcetera).
  4. Plot a graph on the number of leaves counted from step 2. This graph will utilize the information in the table (where all the information would be collected in) that is in the shared spreadsheet. The graph would be
  5. Refer to both the graph and table to observe the changes in the duckweed plant in accordance to the different amounts of salt to decide whether it would be suitable and effective as a bioindicator.

F. Bibliography: List at least five (5) major sources (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review. If you plan to use vertebrate animals, one of these references must be an animal care reference. Choose the APA format and use it consistently to reference the literature used in the research plan. List your entries in alphabetical order for each type of source.

(a) Books

Campbell, N. and J. Reece. (2002) Biology, Sixth Edition. San Francisco, CA.

R., M.K. (2007). Environmental Pollution and Toxicology. Retrieved February 1, 2016, from

(b) Journals

H. B. et al. (2013). Ecological Indicators. Assessment of Lemna Gibba L. (duckweed) as a Potential Ecological Indicator for Contaminated Aquatic Ecosystem by Boron Mine Effluent, 29, 538-548.

Tsuda, T., Yorifuji, T., Takao, S., Miryai, M., & Babazono, A.. (2009). Minamata Disease: Catastrophic Poisoning Due to a Failed Public Health Response. Journal of Public Health Policy,30(1), 54–67. Retrieved from

Wendeou, S. et al.(2013). Influence of Salinity on Duckweed Growth and Duckweed Based Wastewater Treatment System. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 993-998. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from

(c) Websites

Apfel, A. (2016). How Does Duckweed Reproduce? Retrieved January 13, 2016, from

Girard, L. (2016). What Affects the Growth of Duckweed? Retrieved January 14, 2016, from

Kirchhoff, H. (2016). What Does Salt Water Do to a Plant? Retrieved January 21, 2016, from

L. T. (2002). Lemnaceae - bioindicators for the ecosystem. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from

Wikipedia (2016). Environmental Remediation. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from

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