We love doing science experiments that involve food coloring. Our latest experiment is no different! This classic kids science experiment teaches kids how plants absorb water.
Materials For The Celery And Food Coloring Experiment
We used the following materials:
- stalks of celery with leafy tops
- scissors or a knife
- clear containers (we used glass jars)
- food coloring
- pitcher or something to pour the water
First, I brought out all of the materials and showed them to my son. When WJ realized we were going to use food coloring, he immediately said “Yay!”
I told him that I first needed to trim the bottom of the celery and he decided to have a quick snack while I trimmed away. He loves celery!
Next, I had WJ fill the glass jars with water. You don’t need to fill them to the top, just about 1/3 or 1/2 of the way is sufficient for this experiment. WJ loves pouring water so ours were more like 2/3 full.
Then I let WJ add the food coloring to the jars. He added about 4-6 drops of food coloring to each jar. We added one color to each jar, but you could also mix the colors to teach about making colors. We didn’t do this since we recently did another science experiment that focused on making new colors by mixing colors together.
I instructed WJ to put one stalk of celery in each jar and to use the celery to mix the colors. Then I asked him what he thought would happen. we talked about how plants “drink” water and how the colored water might change the appearance of the celery.
He was expecting something to happen right away, so I had to explain to him that we would have to wait to see what happens. We set the timer for one hour. Not much happened in an hour but there were some slight differences.
We went out to run errands and when we returned several hours later, WJ was super excited to see that the celery stalks had started to change color.
We decided to check them again in the morning and by morning you could really see the changes. The most discernible differences were the blue and green stalks but the differences in the red stalk were also clearly noticeable. The most difficult changes to see were in the yellow stalk but if you looked closely you could see those too.
Science Concepts To Discuss From The Celery Experiment
Here are a couple of questions I asked WJ at the end of the experiment to help him understand the science behind the experiment.
- How did the colored water travel up the celery stalk? I explained to WJ that celery has tiny tubes (called xylem) that act like straws. I asked him to tell me what happens when you drink from a straw. Then I explained that plants also “drink” or suck up water through these straws (through a process called capillary action).
- Why do plants need water? We talked about how water is very important for plants to survive. They need water to grow and to make food.
This is an experiment that I anticipate repeating when WJ is a little older since there are some complex science terms and concepts, like capillary action and photosynthesis, that he’s still a little too young to fully grasp.
Have fun experimenting!