Fall Science Fun

Fall is the the time colorful leaves and fun hands-on experiences science activities. Here are two things to do with your children.

Grab a bag to put goodies in and go on a nature walk to gather leaves of various colors, including green ones too. You would like to have at least 5 of each color of possible. Return with your finds and do the following:

Classify the leaves according to color. You can tape a different color of leaf to a cup or jar and have your student place their leaves in the appropriate cup. Idea and picture from http://www.steamsational.com

Have you heard of leaf chromatography? This is where you take colored leaves and draw out its color through rubbing alcohol. This is a great time to discuss chlorophyll in plants. I have done it with my sons and it is neat to see what colors are in the leaves. Here is the experiment given with terrific instructions. (www.farmanddairy.com)

Materials Needed:

Paper towels or coffee filters, rubbing alcohol, a clothespin, small mason jars or glasses, scissors, pencils for each jar/ glass, leaves of different colors and something to grind or crush the leaves, a small tray


Cut your paper towels or coffee filters into 1 1/2″-2″ strips that will fit into your mason jar. Next, cut the leaves into small pieces, make sure to keep them separated by color. 

Take a rock or smooth, rounded object and grind up the leaf pieces. Place the cut-up leaves into mason jars or small glasses, putting the different colored leaves each in their own jar or glass.

Next, pour just enough rubbing alcohol to cover the leaves in each jar. (1-2 tablespoons)

Place your strips of paper towels/coffee filters far enough into the jar that they are barely immersed into the rubbing alcohol and secure them with your clothespin to attach them to a pencil that you lay across the top of the jar. This is to keep the strip from falling down into the container. 

Place the jars on a small tray and put in a secure dark place (a closet) overnight and allow the rubbing alcohol to absorb into the paper strips. Remove the strips and allow them to dry.

I was reading various sources that said the color will become more apparent when the strips dry. Look closely to see the various colors. I am thinking that a magnifying glass may be beneficial.

Take the experiment farther: As you are waiting to see the results of the experiment, create a prediction of what colors you think will appear on each of the paper strips. Check your predictions. What color were you the most surprised with the results?

Have a great week! ~ Lisa ~

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