By Kaydence McDonald & Harley Houle
Air is a life-giving force and necessary for survival. The element of air stands for the life force that brings all people into existence from their first breath. Clean air is important to all forms of life (Assembly of First Nation, 2012).
Air pollution is a common concern for First Nations that live both on reserve as well as those living in urban settings. Acid rain is a form of air pollution. Acid rain is formed when pollutants such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides, contained in power plant smoke, factory smoke, and car exhaust, react with the moisture in the atmosphere. The vapour falls to earth in the form of rain, snow, sleet or hail.
In our desire to give honour to the air which gives us life, we were inspired to do a simple experiment which will show the effect of acid rain on the land and its vegetation.
The changing climate is at the very core of First Nations’ concerns, affecting our ability to access our traditional foods, medicines and territories. We are more directly and immediately affected by environmental change because we live closer to the land. In the school, we recently started to have our Native Language Classes and our teacher had been talking about a hole in the sky which lets harmful elements go through. She said it was above our community and it causes a lot of diseases.
She even said that she sees the hole at night.
Our curiosity was stirred and during the school science fair preparation, our research focused on air pollution. That was when we decided to undertake this project about acid rain. When we first did this project, we only used a very limited number of plants because of time constraint.
The purpose of the project is to:
• Show a simulation of acid rain and its effect on plant growth.
• Compare growth of plants watered with water, vinegar solution, and vinegar.
• Create awareness among our fellow students about the effects of air pollution.
Our project has the following hypotheses:
H01: There will be no significant difference on the rate of growth of Swiss chard seeds treated with water, and Swiss chard seeds treated with water and vinegar. (H01: μ1 = μ2)
H02: There will be no significant difference on the rate of growth of Swiss chard seeds treated with water and seeds treated with pure vinegar. (H02: μ1 = μ3)
• Water • Seedling trays/pots • Facial masks
• Vinegar • Grow light • Latex gloves
• Measuring cup • Paper towels • Potting soil
• Ruler • Project log book • Goggles
• Disposable lab gowns
• 1- 5 gallon aquarium
We wrapped the Swiss chard seeds in a kitchen towel and moistened it with water. We left it overnight before we transferred them to the seed starting tray. We put it under a grow light to facilitate the germination process.
Seed Starting Tray Preparations
We labeled the top part of our seed trays with letters (A to C) that corresponded to the types of liquids that will be used to water each Swiss chard seed. On the left side of the seed tray, we put numbers (1-6) to determine how many of the samples per liquid type we were producing. We filled the seed tray with soil. We poked holes on the catch basin of the seed starting tray so that the liquids could be drained properly and so that the seeds would not absorb differing liquid dilutions.
We mixed 100 mL of vinegar and 900 mL of water to make the water-vinegar solution. We also prepared 1000 mL water and 1000 mL of pure vinegar separately. These liquids were used to water the plants.
Watering and Measuring
Our experiment ran for 12 days from February 19 to March 2 of 2018. February 19 marked Day 1. It was when we started measuring the height of our Swiss chard plants watered with different liquid solutions. We measured the Swiss chard plants every other day, and watered each plant with 10 mL of the liquid solution specific for their trials.
With the help of our mentors, we analyzed the data we gathered in order to determine if the hypotheses would be accepted, or rejected.
We observed that the Swiss chard plants reacted very quickly with the vinegar! Their leaves started to weaken at first before they eventually die.
We utilized two statistical equations to test our hypotheses. We used Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), which is a test that compare two or more means (the averages of any sets of numbers) to find out if the null hypothesis was accepted or rejected. Then, we subjected the means of plant growth to a t-test.
The data in Table 1 was subjected to a statistical analysis using ANOVA, it generated a P-value of .03747, which is lower than the .05 alpha value. Therefore, we rejected the hypothesis that there would be no difference on the rate of growth of the Swiss chard seeds fed with water and plants fed with water and vinegar solution.
The data in Table 2 was subjected to a statistical analysis using ANOVA. It generated a P-value of 0.03357, which is lower than the .05 alpha value. Therefore, we rejected the hypothesis that there is no difference on the rate of growth Swiss chard seeds fed with water and plants fed with pure vinegar.
Without having the data treated statistically, and just by looking at the average plant growth, we could tell that the acid in the vinegar had a negative effects on plants. Doing the ANOVA confirmed our observation. However, just to make sure, we still performed a t-test.
Table 3 shows the results of the t-test we performed. Both t-test results are showing that our null hypotheses are rejected. This means that acid rain really had harmful effects on plants!
The results generated were able to prove that acid rain is very harmful for the lands and all the creatures that depend on it, especially on plants.
This project still considers the welfare of First Nations people who are very much dependent on the land. As growing students, we believe we have the ability to be Defenders of the Mother Earth. This project will help us promote environmental awareness among our fellow youth.
Our simple experiment can be replicated anytime. We suggest that future experiments allow for more time to be allotted for observations so that the rate of plant growth can be compared and analyzed more extensively. We only had 12 days for this experiment and extending the time for up to a few months will probably provide more remarkable results. Future experiments should also include a larger population size for the experiment, and that the experiment uses different varieties of plants. We can even use our local plants here like the willows, or spruce trees.
The success of our science project has been attained through collaboration. We would like to extend our gratitude to the following: O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi Chief and Council, Donald Ahmo School Administrators and Staff, the School Science Fair Committee, our supportive parents and guardians, and above all to the Great Creator who makes all things with a purpose.
REFERENCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY
What is Acid Rain?. Retrieved January 19, 2018 from
Assembly of First Nations. Honouring Air. Retrieved February 12, 2018 from
About the Authors
Kaydence is the oldest child. She has two sisters. She is a very quiet and responsible student and was voted as the class Chief! She loves reading and drawing when she has spare time. Her favourite subject in school is Math but she is also good in the Language Arts!
Harley can be considered as “one of the boys”, but she is definitely a real young lady. She loves doing physical activities whenever she has the chance to do so. She loves Math and cultural activities. She has been elected as one of the class Councillors during the Class Chief and Council Election.