Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Experiment 1. Plants having a drink

Harry is now 6 and is busy planning a career. He wants to be a scientist when he grows up. Even though I used to be a scientist, I would like to say straight away that he didn't get this ambition from me. When he told me his plan, my mind started to launch into a diatribe about the pitfalls of being a scientist for a living. My brain was rattling on about how you think you're going to do something useful in the world but in the end you just end up compromising your ethics by working with big business, who don't give a toss about making the world a better place but only care about money. Thankfully my mouth ignored my brain and said "Yes I can see that you love to find out how things work, and that's what scientists do."
Anyway, he has been begging for science "tricks", so I'm aiming to do one a week or so, just for fun. You will all be tortured with the details, nyah ha ha!

Experiment 1. Plants having a drink.
Background: This is more of an observation than an experiment. It shows how plants drink water.
You will need: Some flowers- white flowers are best; Food colouring. We used blue, red, and yellow, and plain water as the 'control'; Some glasses or jars and some water.
1. Pick the flowers and put them in a glass with some water at the bottom. Add some food colouring to the water- I used quite a lot so that you can see the colours clearly in the petals.
2. Check back over the next couple of hours to see the coloured water start to move through the plants. These flowers had colour at the tips of the petals after only 1 hour. The colours deepened and spread over the following day.

We chatted about what we saw happening. Things that the kids noticed were that it was harder to see the yellow (so we talked about contrasting colours), that the colour was first visible at the tips of the petals (so they drink right up to the top Mum!), that the colours are in stripes (the veins are parallel in these flowers). We also noticed that some of the petals were barely coloured at all. Why is that? I'm guessing that these petals will be the first to fall off, and they didn't show the colour because the plant has already started shutting off those veins. I have no idea if I'm right about that or not. When we looked closely we noticed that the middle of the daisy was showing the colour too, right to the tops of the stamens. Rather pretty I thought.

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  1. Hey wow! My kids would dig this!

  2. The flowers are like hand-touched digital artworks! I feel myself about to let forth a similar diatribe when one of my kids mentions becoming a teacher...

  3. - good on you for supporting Harry's interests ... those flowers look booooootiful.

  4. That is so cool you are encouraging his interest! I remember doing this experiment when I was young and being amazed by it. Looking forward to seeing the next installment in the science series...

  5. Hey it would be great if the kids were content to look at your experiments and we could leave it at that. We're going through a papermache phase where items plastered with newspaper are appearing on the windowsill, presumable awaiting the next coat. Johnny grabbed a grocery box last night and said 'can I have this for my racing car?' and I thought 'wow, he's going to tidy up his cars (spontaneously!)' and then he just hopped inside it and started making racingcar noises. Boys and mothers can think very differently sometimes.

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  7. Also I meant to say: I'm sorry about those big business people ruining your science job. They don't know what they are missing not having an ethical crafty thrifty scientist like yourself.

    (had to correct the grammar.)

  8. Miss Smith -maybe you could write a science book for preschoolers and their teachers. Lots of my teachers say they lack confidence in doing science with kids and these experiments along with your explanations would be fabulous.