Questions for ‘Synthetic trees could tap underground water in arid areas’

a leaf glistens in sunlight

Trees do a great job of pumping water from deep underground. That water makes its way to the topmost leaves. Researchers now have developed a “synthetic tree” to bring people drinking water from aquifers dozens of meters (yards) below Earth’s surface.

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To accompany “Synthetic trees could tap underground water in arid areas


Before Reading:

1.  What roles do tree roots play? List as many as you can.

2.  How does most water enter a tree or other plant? How does that moisture move throughout the plant?

During Reading:

1.  What is capillary action and how does it work?

2.  What action in its leaves bring new water into a tree? What is the role of xylem in that water movement?

3.  Describe the synthetic tree developed by the Virginia Tech scientists. What are its leaves made from? How are they similar to real leaves?

4.  What role does a graphite coating play in the synthetic leaves?

5.  From how far underground might synthetic trees be able to pump water, according to Xianming Dai?

6.  What does Hadi Ghasemi argue is truly key to the new synthetic tree’s efficiency?

After Reading:

1.  Based on the story, if a synthetic tree’s “leaves” cover 4.8 square meters, how much water could it pump per hour? Show your work.

2.  The developers of the new synthetic leaves liken the way they work to those on a tree. In what ways is this new system not like a tree? List as many as you can.