Secret Leaf Color Experiment
Have you ever wondered why leaves change color in the fall? Leaves contain pigments that give them their colors. Even though plants are green most of the time, their leaves contain pigments for different colors too! In the fall, some leaves stop making green pigments as they are getting ready to slow down for winter. Then the hidden colors begin to show!
You can do an easy science experiment to find out what pigments are in leaves. Find out what pigments make up the colors in markers using the same technique. You might be surprised at the results!
- Coffee filters
- Pencils, pens or dowels
- Paperclip or tape
- Measuring spoons
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Clear jars, glasses or beakers
First, go on a leaf hunt. Collect several different leaves. Fresh leaves are best, the dried out crunchy ones won’t work as well! Be sure to get some green ones and other colors if you like.
Get ready for your experiment by cutting a strip out of the coffee filter. To get the longest strip, you’ll want to cut it out of the middle. Roll one end around a pencil and secure it with tape or a paperclip. Let the other end of the strip hang down. Test the length by setting it down into the clear container. You want it to go almost to the bottom of the container, but not quite.
Now the fun part. Tear, crunch, squish and grind a leaf up and put it in one of the clear containers. You can use your fingers to tear, and the rounded side of a spoon works well to squish.
Once you have crushed your leaves, add 1 Tablespoon of water and 1 teaspoons of isopropyl alcohol to the container. If the leaves are not covered by the liquid, you can add more. Give the container a gentle swish and swirl. Set the pencil holding the strip of coffee filter down across the container. Let your experiment sit overnight.
To find out what pigments are in a marker, create another coffee filter strip on a pencil. About an inch up from the bottom of the strip, draw a thick line with the color marker you’ve chosen. Just like with the leaf, add 1 Tablespoon of water and 1 teaspoon of isopropyl alcohol to the container. Set the pencil holding the strip of coffee filter down across the container. Let your experiment sit overnight.
What did you find out? Can you see different colors? Some may be subtle, look closely!
Did you get the results you expected? Try this with other things that contain pigments, like fruits and vegetables, or colored paper.
Visit Sarah, our contributor for this post at Share it! Science for more creative science experiments for kids!