Colored Petals: Science Experience for Kids

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This fun experiment details how everyday plants receive and process the life-giving water they need to thrive. With a few glasses of colored water, some flowers and a knife or scissors to cut the stem, you’ll watch as flowers drink up their nourishing water and take on new brilliant colors.
Why It Works:
Capillary action, or capillarity, is the ability of a liquid to rise through narrow spaces—in this case, a stem. In this experiment, notice how the petals begin to take on the same color as the dye you’ve added to the water? You can literally watch capillarity in action—although it is, indeed, a slow process.
Here’s What You Need:
- Three white flowers. We used Gerbera daisies, but you can use anything you have on hand or that is easily available at the florist or store: roses, carnations. Go pick some lawn daisies if you have them. If you don’t have flowers, celery works great as well.
- Four glasses of water
- Food dye: blue, yellow, green, red
- Sharp knife

Step 1

Mix each color into each of your glasses, until you have four glasses of different colored water. The stronger you make the colors, the better.

Step 2

Add two flowers to two colors of your partner’s choice and set aside. You should have two colors and one flower remaining at this point.

Step 3

Take your last flower and have your lab partner slit the stem so that you’ll be able to put one part of the stem in one remaining colored glass and the other part of the stem in the other remaining colored glass. In other words, your flower should now be drinking from two glasses at the same time.

Step 4

Place the water glasses away from the sunlight and watch what happens. You’ll start to notice some fascinating results within an hour or so, as the colored water creeps up the stem and begins to color the leaves. But wait a few days and keep observing the petals for fuller color displays.

Step 5

This how-to is excerpted with permission from "Dad's Book of Awesome Science Experiments: From Boiling Ice and Exploding Soap to Erupting Volcanoes and Launching Rockets, 30 Inventive Experiments to Excite the Whole Family!" by Mike Adamick and published by Adams Media, a division of F+W Media, Inc.

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