Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Theme Activities (Leaf Science Experiment)

 We collected leaves in the woods to do a science experiment from education.com on why leaves change colors.  This was such a great activity because we went over the types of leaves (let's find a maple leaf, oak leaf, etc.)

Then we chopped up the leaves, put them in glass cups, added rubbing alcohol and hot water.  Then after a half-hour we put in coffee filters to see what other colors are present in a leaf.

What huge sycamore leaves!!
I explained to the kids that chloropylls (the green colors) hide the other pigments that are present in the leaf.  In the fall, leaves stop producing chlorophyll and it's easier to see the other substances that are present such as cartenoids.  I asked LD what "cartenoids" sounds like (he said "carrots") and I asked him what colors it might produce... orange and yellow.  That was our simple explanation for why leaves change colors. Other pigments include xanthophylls (yellow) and anthocyanins (red).

We chopped up our leaves and added them to these glass cups. I added the rubbing alcohol and the kids took turns adding hot watter.


The colors were not as bright and colorful as LD was expecting, but you could definitely see the orange, yellow and red colors.
For more detail about this experiment go to education.com.

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