I really enjoy doing simple science experiments with kids. They learn so much from the experiments and it gets them excited about science. As a teacher, I love the questions that kids come up with and wonder.
After a child asked how water gets into a tree, I wanted to do an experiment that they could easily see with their own eyes how it happens. They knew that leaves don’t ‘drink’ the rain, but wondered how the water got into the leaves and tree. I decided to try this simple science experiment with them to help explain.
To start, I used white flowers. I have had the most success with carnations. I filled a cup with water and then added (quite a bit) of food coloring (1 to 4 ratio of water to food coloring.) The more coloring you add, the more vibrant the color will be. I did this experiment in the classroom with 2 cups and again at home with 3 cups/colors.
In one of the cups, I added blue coloring. In the other, I added red and yellow in the last one. I then put the carnations into the cups. When I did this experiment in the classroom I used cups with lids just in case they were knocked over. It helped avoid a huge mess! At home, mason jars worked perfectly.
We wanted to know what would happen if we split the stem and put each end in a different color. To find out, with a few of the flowers I cut the bottom of the stem in half and put each end of the stem into a different color. You can secure the flowers with a bit of tape.
It is always fun to have kids predict what they think is going to happen. With me, some kids thought that the stem would change color, others thought that the coloring would kill the flower.
In a very short period of time, we began to notice that the flowers were beginning to change! In less than an hour, we could already see some pink and blue. By the next morning, everyone was excited to see the results!
All of the flowers had clearly changed color. The longer we left them the darker the colors became.
I like that with this simple science experiment, students had to wait for the final results – which is more like real science experiments.
By the next morning, the flowers looked beautiful!
The result for the flower that was split between both of the colors was my favorite. Many of us predicted that the flower would turn purple, but we were surprised to see half of the flower turn pink, and the other half blue with a little mix of purple in the middle.
There were a few petals that were a beautiful mix and we saw some purple, but there was a very clear separation of the blue and red. This is great for kids to see and understand that each flower was ‘drinking’ the colored water from the cup its stem was in.
Although we had finished our experiment, there was one more thing that some children wondered. What would happen if we switched the blue flower and put it into the cup with the red food coloring? Would the coloring still be split down the middle like the other flower or would it become just one color?
We tried it and left it over night. Again, our results, were beautiful! The red flower turned a bit maroon when put into the blue water. The blue flower began to show more purple in the petals. I love the rainbow of colors that we ended up!
Simple science experiments create lots of conversation and interest in science and plants! Children learned about how water and in this case, colored water, travels up a stem.
As an extension to this activity, students filled out the following sheet. They drew one, or all of the flowers and then what they looked like after one night. Free printable worksheet available below.
For more art, science and other activities to do with kids, visit the links below.