Posts Tagged ‘ experiment ’

When plants eat insects, where do they go? A carnivorous plant dissection experiment for kids. When Love Bites

Posted on: January 14th, 2021 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

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.

  1. Sundew: These bad boys exude a sticky substance that attracts and then traps insects and other small prey. Their meal is quickly swallowed by a web of tiny tentacles and digested by enzymes within the plant stems and leaves.
  2. Venus Fly Trap: One of the most popular meat-eaters with trigger-sensitive, dangerous jaws! They use sweet nectar to attract their prey and then with interlocking teeth, trap their victims. Digestive enzymes get to work as the plant absorbs a lovely nutritious soup.
  3. American Trumpet Pitcher: This cleaver funnel-like plant hunts using a pit-fall trap. Insects are attracted by a nectar-like secretion on the top of the leaves. Unlucky for them, the nectar is poisonous, sending their intoxicated bodies tumbling down the funnel.
  4. Tropical Pitcher Plant: Similar to the beastie above but more sack-like in appearance. They too attract insects using sweet intoxicating nectar. Prey slip on the rims of the plant, falling into a pool of death and soon drowning inside a sticky acidic liquid. The horror!
Sundew, carnivorous plant, kids diy, school experiment
sundew, carnivore plant, diy, experiment
Venus fly trap, carnivourous plant, diy, experiment
Venus fly trap, carnivorous plant, dissecting
American Trumpet Pitcher, carnivorous plants, dissecting, experiment
American Trumpet Pitcher, dissecting carnivorous plants
Topical pitcher plant, dissecting carnivorous plants
Tropical pitcher plant, dissecting carnivorous plants

Experiment essentials:

  • A carnivorous plant
  • Crickets or similar small insects and a container to catch them in
  • Scissors
  • A sharp knife
  • Magnifying glass
What you need, experiment, dissecting carnivorous plants
Insects, dissecting carnivorous plants

The dissection process:

  • Approach your plant with caution, bringing your prey as a peace offering. Know what method your plant uses to hunt and eat so that you can position your insect in the right place.
  • Once you can see that your plant has taken the bait, give it about an hour and then, off with its head!
  • Cut the plant close to the base using a pair of scissors.
  • Use your knife to make a sleek slit down the plant, from leaf/flower top to the bottom of the stem. Open it up gently with your fingers.
  • Grab your magnifying glass and check out that exco-skeleton! You should be able to see the insect remains nicely (and a few other unfortunates down there too).

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.

Insect, life is a garden , dissecting carnivorous plants
Dissecting carnivorous plants, experiment
Dissecting carnivorous plants, experiment
Dissecting carnivorous plants, experiment
Dissecting carnivorous plants, experiment
Dissecting carnivorous plants

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

Carnivore plants, dissecting

DIY Colour a Bouquet Experiment

Posted on: December 21st, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

Transform white flowers into a rainbow bouquet

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:

Plant picks

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.

  • White roses
  • Lisianthus
  • Carnations
  • Gerberas
  • Hydrangeas

You will need:

  • A few white flowers (store-bought or hand-picked).
  • 4 Different shades of food colouring (or as many as you like).
  • 4 Medium-sized drinking glasses or jars (avoid plastic cups).
  • A pair of sharp scissors
Life is a garden DIY colour bouquet

Get colouring:

  1. Fill half of each glass with water.
  2. Pour half the bottle of your chosen food colouring, one at a time, into each glass of water. You want to achieve a rather concentrated colour so that your flower will have a vibrant hue.
  3. Cut any leaves off your flowers and trim the stems to fit nicely inside your glass. You want some stem sticking out with your flower comfortably resting against the glass.
  4. Pop your clean-stemmed flowers inside the different glasses.
  5. After two hours or so, you will begin seeing slight colours appearing on the edges of the flower petals. When the kids wake up, the flowers should be completely coloured in and looking lovely!
  6. As a fun little extra, kids could also name their new flower species and make little tags for their inventions. Help kids think of names by combining the flower’s botanical name with perhaps their own, other family members, or their pet’s names.
  7. While the kids wait, here’s some neat to know science stuff about how your flowers have soaked up the colour.

 

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?

DIY colour bouquet
DIY colour bouquet
DIY colour experiment
DIY colour experiment

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:

  • See what happens if you use a light and dark soda instead of water.
  • How will your flowers turn out if you mixed two food colouring shades together?
  • What if you used orange juice and grape juice instead of water?
  • See if you could make a rainbow flower by splitting the steam and putting each strip into a different coloured glass.

 

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.

DIY Colour Bouquet
DIY colour bouquet
DIY colour experiment
DIY colour experiment
DIY colour experiment

Growing Spinach in a Jar Experiment

Posted on: July 6th, 2020 by Shahnee Stockigt No Comments

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:

  • Large spinach seeds
  • A glass jar
  • Kitchen roll
  • Water
Setting up your seed experiment:

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.

 

What do you see in your seed jar?
  • You are looking for a root to pop out of the side of the seed.
  • Next, you are looking for roots to push down into the towel.
  • Also, you are looking for root hairs.
  • Next, you are looking for the seed to push up while the root hairs push down.
  • Lastly, you are looking for the shoots to come up.
Our watering findings:

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:

  • Jar one: Watered once a week.
  • Jar two: Watered twice a week.
  • Jar three: Watered three times a week.
What would you guess are the different watering results? Our gardeners concluded that the seedling stems grew the following amounts during 12 days:
  • Jar 1: 6 cm
  • Jar 2: 5 cm
  • Jar 3: 3 cm

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.