Photosynthesis with encapsulated algae

Photosynthesis kit by Matt Walters

Investigate the production of oxygen via photosynthesis by using encapsulated algae. Students use alginate to quantitatively immobilise algae before placing them in vials. The vials contain an indicator solution that changes colour as the quantity of dissolved carbon dioxide changes.

This kit can be posted to New Zealand high schools and contains most of the chemicals and apparatus required. The kits are sent out fortnightly and the algae culture needs to be grown for 3–4 weeks before it is ready to use in the classroom.  

 The kit contains

  • Preparation guide
  • Student guides
  • Algae drawings/photo sheet
  • Gel transmission spectra sheet
  • pH scale cards
  • Algae starter culture
  • Enrichment media
  • Alginate powder
  • Concentrated indicator solution
  • Coloured gel sheets
  • Black paper

You will also need

  • A two litre clear container (eg soft drink bottle)
  • Aquarium pump with tubing and diffuser
  • Foam or nylon wool
  • 18 watt low temperature light source (optional, a south facing windowsil will work but more slowly)
  • Magnetic hotplate stirrer adjustable to around 30-35°C (recommended, a magnetic stirrer will do)
  • Calcium chloride dihydrate (CaCl2.2H20), 20 grams
  • Plastic pipettes
  • 7ml vials (or similar) for conducting experiments (up to 80 depending on number of groups and activities)
  • Sieves, small, 1 per group.


  • To reduce the amount of waste to landfill we encourage you to reuse the kits. We can resupply a new algae culture and chemicals for future experiments.

Request a photosynthesis kit

Kit only available to senior biology classes at schools/kura.