Autumn is a colourful time for trees and a curious invitation to all young gardeners. Do your children also enjoy rummaging around in leaves, collecting them, and admiring their unique hues? Well then, here’s a DIY kids experiment that investigates the science of chlorophyll and answers the question of how and why leaves change colour. Are you ready for some fun in the garden? Let’s go!
For starters, leaves are part of Mother Nature’s highly intelligent network of oxygen (O2) providers, making them an essential service to life on Earth. Through photosynthesis, leaves turn light energy into food for plants to grow. Using their pores, or stomata, leaves absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and then release clean, crisp O2 for us to breath – thanks guys!
Owing to changes in daylight and temperature during Autumn, the process of photosynthesis and the amount of chlorophyll in leaves is altered. Chlorophyll is the chemical that makes leaves green, so with less sunlight for photosynthesis, it’s only natural that some changes in colour are expected. The absence of chlorophyll is what results in the gorgeous display of sunset-hued leaves this time of year.
An experiment awaits!
You will need:
Leaves at the ready:
Enjoy this investigative, hands-on experiment with your young ones. Let’s continue our quest to inspire and educate the new generation of gardeners. After all, our Life is a Garden, and we want our kids to have one too! Don’t forget to visit your GCA Garden Centre for new autumn babies to plant and sow, for pots, beds, and baskets.
Do plants have stomachs and teeth? How are they able to catch prey like other carnivores if they can’t run? And when they catch insects, where do they go? These are mind-baffling questions indeed and certainly worthy of a little hands-on investigation! Scientists, biologists, and creepy-crawler lovers, are you ready to find out what happens when love bites this February? Eeeeew!
Did you know?
Carnivorous plants, also known as insectivorous plants, are those which get their nutrition by catching and digesting insects. How cool is that? Carnivory in plants is owing to centuries of evolution, driven by pure instinct to survive in areas with nitrogen-poor soil. There are over 600 known species of insectivorous plants around the world, time to get yours!
The deadliest devils
Here are a few carnivorous contenders that will make the perfect dissection specimen.
The dissection process:
A meaty-must-know: Make sure you know how your deadly devil likes their soil so that you can home them for good and keep adding to the collection. They flourish in “poor” moist soil with some acidity that activates their instinct to source nitrogen from insects.
This experiment is loaded with opportunities for exploration, discovery, and independent learning for the hungry young mind. Inspire your child to get in the garden and show them how awesome the natural world can be. Caring for a carnivorous plant is like having an exotic pet and requires much more attention than your average pot plant. Investing in one of these for the kids is a fantastic long-term project with countless “oh my word, it just ate a… coooool!”. #TeamGreenIsWinning
Who says back to school can’t begin with a little fun? This DIY experiment is science on rainbow steroids and will intrigue both boys and girls. Learn about plant anatomy, enjoy a little magic, and become the inventor of a whole new flower species. Transform white blooms into any colour you like, here’s how:
Any white flowers should work well for this experiment. Here are some top picks that are currently in bloom, either in the garden or at your local GCA Garden Centre.
You will need:
The science of how plants drink:
Out in the wild, plants soak up water from the ground through their roots. The water then travels through the stem and into the flower petals. Although we have removed the roots of our flowers in this experiment, the stems are still able to soak up the coloured water and defy gravity! Plants are super intelligent and use capillary action to drink upsidedown – pretty impressive, right?
Consider this – food for thinkers.
If plants are so easily affected by what goes into their water, imagine what polluted water does to them! Similarly, consider the possibilities of adding other liquids to the water and how this would affect the colour of the blooms. Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:
Enjoy showing off your hybrids, kids! Go back to school with an awesome story to tell about how you invented a flower this holiday. And don’t forget to tell your friends about the importance of clean water for our flowers and their gravity-defying superpower.
Our gardeners from Life is a Garden conducted this family-friendly, insightful little seed germination experiment during the lockdown days. Our gardeners set out to grow some spinach in a glass jar, allowing them to enjoy every step of the growing show, from above to below ground. Our gardeners watered each jar differently to determine how much water is too much, too little, and just right. The results may surprise you!
What you need:
STEP 1: Get your little-handed scientist to assist you here, by folding and scrunching up a few pieces of kitchen roll. Place the folded kitchen roll inside the perimeter of the glass jar, then stuff the scrunched pieces into the middle.
STEP 2: Carefully push seeds down into the paper towels around the edge of the jar so they can still be seen. Make sure they are firmly held in place.
STEP 3: Gently water your seed jar to wet the paper towels. Be careful not to flood it as this spells certain disaster for our seeds.
Our gardeners wanted to see how much water would be best for the spinach seedlings. They set up their three jars and measured the same amount of water to be given to each jar. The water quantities were the same; however, the frequency of watering is what made all the difference:
As you can see folks, the spinach seedling grew the most when watered only once a week, with twice a week watering coming in second place. In jar 3, there was half the growth and the roots were over-watered, beginning to rot.
You can also try growing sunflower seeds, peas, and beans in a glass jar. Try out this little experiment for yourself and get to know your greens up-close and personal. You could also investigate whether seeds need water at all to germinate by setting up 3 jars and measuring how much water goes into each so that one is fully wet, half wet and one has no water.
Good luck and happy experimenting!
For more fun DIY projects, click here.