Two plants show the effects of acid rain

R.I.P. Pinky (Rest in Peace Pinky)

This hands-on experiment examines the effects of acid rain on plants.

A student in the Secondary Program at Perkins School for the Blind shares her project from the Science Fair.

From my research I gathered that acid rain is a broad term referring to a mixture of wet and dry deposition (deposited material) from the atmosphere containing higher than normal amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. Acid rain formation result from both natural sources, such as volcanoes and decaying vegetation, and man-made sources, primarily emissions of sulfur dioxide (so2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)resulting from fossil fuel combustion.

Wet deposition refers to acid rain, fog, and snow. If the acid chemicals in the air are blown into areas where the weather is wet, the acids can fall to the ground in the form of rain, snow, fog, or mist. As this acidic water flows over and through the ground, it affects a variety of plants and animals. The strength of the effects depends on several factors, including how acidic the water is. Usually the pH of acid rain is 5.0 or lower. Most acid deposition ranges from 4.3 and 5.0 somewhere around the acidity of orange juice or black coffee. 

Scientific Question:

What is acidic rain?  And how will it affect begonia torch pink plants?


Acidic rain is rain that has an acidic pH, usually from 0 to 6 on the pH scale. I predict that the acid rain will effect the growth of the plant depending on how acidic the water is. 

plant not subjected to acid rain
This plant was not subjected to acid rain.
plant show effects of acid rain
This is the plant after its first watering with acid rain.
Graduated cylinder
Graduated cylinder


For someone with low vision (and everyone else with vision) the yellow contrast helps to see the level of the marks( the graduations) and the water.  These are sold in regular science teaching supply catalogs such as


1.     Create Acidic water either with vinegar or CO2

2.     Make sure to have two plants. One experimental one as the control.

3.     Put the acidic substance in to the experimental plant.

4.     Put normal water with a pH about seven in the control.

5.     Watch the results with both plants.

6.     Write data down either on the computer or in a notebook.


Once I added acid water to the experimental plant it started to die. The control which I just added regular tap water continued growing. After two weeks I compared the plants and there were many differences. The height of the two plants was different seeing that the acid was not letting the plant grow properly. The leaves were very dry and some of the leaves had a rubbery feeling. The control was the opposite. It was strong and healthy.

NGSS Standards

LS2.C: Ecosystem dynamics, functioning, and resilience

Life Science Grades 3-5

N/A When the environment changes some organisms survive and reproduce, some move to new locations, some move into the transformed environment, and some die.

Life Science Grades 6-8

Ecosystem characteristics vary over time. Disruptions to any part of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all of its populations. The completeness or integrity of an ecosystem’s biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health.

Life Science Grades 9-12

If a biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, including one induced by human activity, the ecosystem may return to its more or less original state or become a very different ecosystem, depending on the complex set of interactions within the ecosystem.


Environmental Protection Agency

Geography, ThoughtCo.

Acid Rain collage

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