Spring into Science - Investigating Leaves

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Spring into Science - Investigating Leaves

Investigating Leaves

Are you looking for some Spring themed science experiments and activities to do with your curious kids? I was too!

I've put together some activities to help children to better understand and visualise how plants circulate nutrients.

Take a look and have some fun learning about science and nature.

Food for thought

Leaves are the engine rooms of plants. Leaves are where sunlight, carbon dioxide and  chlorophyll (contained in the leaves) use the process of photosynthesis to create the  energy that a plant needs to live and grow.
Leaves contain veins that help to transport food and water to where it needs to go. 

Transportation

The veins on the leaves contain two small tubes called the xylem and the phloem.
The xylem brings water and nutrients from the roots up through the stem and leaves. The phloem distributes the carbohydrates (sugars) that are made through photosynthesis, throughout the plant.

Activities with Leaves

Leaf Rubbings

Leaf rubbings are a beautiful way of exploring nature through art. Leaf rubbing is the  process of revealing the features of a leaf by creating an impression of it on paper using a crayon, candle or chalk.

Materials 

  1. Leaves of different kinds. It is good to get different sizes and shapes and to find ones with fine veins as well as well defined ones.
  2. One or more of the following:
    • Chalk/chalk pastels
    • Crayons
    • Soft lead pencils
    • White candle stick or white crayon and watercolour paints (just the inexpensive dry tablets that you wet with a paintbrush)

You will also need some plain white paper. I find that printer paper is great!

Activity Steps

  1. Place a leaf on a flat solid surface such as a table. 
  2. Place a piece of paper over the leaf.
  3. Use the chalk or crayon on their sides to rub over the top of the leaf fairly firmly. 
  4. If you used the white crayon or candle stick, paint over the top with the  watercolours to reveal the leaf pattern.

Science Discussion

You might like to use some of these questions as a jumping off point for talking about leaves and their role in a plant:

  1. What features can you see in the leaf rubbings? 
  2. What do you think that the darker lines are? 
  3. What do you think that the veins do?

Leaf Experiment

Crazy Coloured Leaves

I really wanted Lily to get an understanding of how water gets from the soil, through the roots and into the leaves of plants. Doing an experiment that actually demonstrated the full process wasn't really an option but this quick experiment grabbed her attention and really helped her to picture the process.

Materials

  1. Wombok leaf or similar. Available at the supermarket.
  2. Food colouring.
  3. Glass or cup filled with approximately 1/3 cup of water.

Activity Steps

  1. Put some food colouring into the water. Make sure that it is quite dark.
  2. Place the leaf in the cup and leave for at least 4 hours.
  3. Observe what happens to the leaf over time.

Science Discussion

  1. What do you think will happen to the leaf?                                        
  2. Why do you think that
  3. How do you think it relates to the way the plant survives when it has roots in the   ground?

For more exciting experiments why not grab our Chemistry-in-Action kit?


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