Fall foliage is breathtaking, and provides the perfect opportunity to learn about leaves. Leaves are especially interesting to observe in autumn. Ever wonder how liquids travel through leaves? To find the answer, I worked on an easy STEAM experiment that is perfect for all who love nature and learning about leaves.
- Clear cups or glasses
- Red food coloring
- Paper and pencil, or another way to record observations
- Magnifying glass (optional)
First, you can make a K-W-L chart, a type of worksheet that helps your child identify what they already know, what they would like to know, and what they have learned. Here's a handy template for you to use, and some sample questions to use in your chart:
- What does your child already know about leaves?
- What would they like to learn about leaves?
- At the end of the experiment, you can record what they learned.
You can begin by taking a walk through your backyard, local park, or a hiking trail to collect a few different leaves for your STEAM experiment. When you get home, snip off the bottom of each leaf stem. Next, fill a glass or clear cup with water; the cup should be about a third of the way full. Place each leaf in its own glass of water. Then add food coloring to the water. Over the next few days, you’ll begin to notice the color is slowly moving through the leaves. You can use a magnifying glass to get a closer look. Continue to record your observations over the next few days.
“The colored water is moving through the xylem tubes of the leaf. The xylem tubes of plants transport the water and minerals up from the roots through the entire plant. The thick walls also provide support for the plants.”
Wyndham Path, where I found the leaves I used in my experiment
Day One: leaves in clear cups with water and red food coloring
Day Two: one leaf begins to show the red food coloring
- Local trails
- Why do leaves change colors?
- Leaf painting
- More leaf-themed STEAM activities
- STEM strategies
- Autumn leaves absorption art
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