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Summer vacation is a much-needed break from the classroom for kids of all ages – but learning doesn’t have to stop when school does! Fun and engaging science projects can teach your elementary or middle schooler tons about the scientific method and scientific principles in a way that feels like they’re doing magic! Baking soda volcanoes and homemade slime will always be favorites but experimenting with plants opens a whole new world of scientific wonder – color changing flowers and cloning your own cabbage kind of wonder. Keep reading for some exciting plant science experiments to add a little learning and discovery to your summer!

Colorful Carnations

We all know that plants need water to live, but what do they do with the water and where does it go when plants start to get “thirsty”? This experiment will help you discover just that in a colorful way! All you need is a few white carnations, glasses or vases to put them in, a sharp knife, water, and food coloring! Simply fill the glasses with about half a cup to a cup of water and add roughly ten drops of food coloring to each. Cut the stems of the carnations at an angle, and place one carnation in each glass. Place the glasses in a sunny area and wait 4-6 hours to see some color changing magic!

What’s going on? As the flowers sit in the sun, the water in their blossoms evaporates. The carnations then need to suck the water in which they are sitting up into their stem and eventually into the bloom to replace that water. When the colored water reaches the petals, that is when the color will change!

Extra Credit: See what happens if you cut the stem of a carnation vertically in half and place each half in different color water!

Creepy Clones

Clones only exist in science fiction movies, right?! Maybe cloning people is still a thing of the future, but you can clone a cabbage right in your kitchen! Cloning plants is not as rare as you might think – it’s actually a very common practice in farming. Plants that reproduce asexually (meaning that they essentially make a copy of their own DNA to produce a baby plant rather than reproducing using seeds created from male and female plant parts) are useful because they keep the same qualities of the parent plant in its offspring. Farmers who have perfected their crop want it to taste just as delicious year after year, so will “clone” their crops to achieve that consistency and deliciousness.

How you can do it at home

  1. Gather your materials. You’ll need one head of Napa cabbage, paper towels, four plastic bags, water, and a knife.
  2. Peel the leaves off the head of cabbage (but save one for the experiment). Once you’re left with just the cabbage stem, cut it in three cross sections horizontally so you’re left with top, middle, and root pieces.
  3. Fold each paper towel a few times, wet them, and place them each in a separate bag.
  4. Place your saved leaf and your top, middle, and bottom stem pieces each in their own bags and seal them off.
  5. Observe to see which pieces grow the best!

Summer might be a break from school but doing educational activities with your child can help teach them that learning is fun! These plant-based activities can also introduce them to the wide variety of growing things outside your door and might just spark some new interests in eating their veggies or helping you out in the garden.


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