Friday, 23 September 2016

Fall Leaves Experiment

This week's Unit Study Roundup is on Fall or Autumn.  We did an experiment on leaves today.  We decided to see what colours are in leaves.   There are three pigments that colour leaves, Chlorophyll - which is green, Carotenoid - which is yellow, orange, and brown, and finally Anthocyanin which is red.

We took leaves from two trees and a hedge and we tore them up into small pieces.  We did each type of leaf separately to avoid cross contamination.   I put three glass jars on my table, along with the leaves, rubbing alcohol, and a coffee filter.

Each type of leaf went into a separate glass jar and then DD poured the rubbing alcohol into the jar to cover the leaves.  She did not like the smell of it!

We covered the jars and left the leaves to soak. According to the experiment method that I had we needed to leave the leaves soaking in the rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol for about an hour.

We waited... and we waited... and we waited... and we played... and we played... and we waited some more.

The next step of the experiment involved cutting up a coffee filter into strips and then dipping the coffee filter into the leaf and isopropyl alcohol mixture and waiting some more.  The idea is that the coffee filter is supposed to take on the colour of the mixture and as the alcohol evaporates, the colour will travel up the coffee filter.  I needed to use bigger jars for this and therefore had to pour one of the mixtures into a new jar!

We need to wait for another hour or possibly and hour and a half because the isopropyl alcohol has to travel up the filter and evaporate and we should see a pigment on the filter.

After nearly two hours of waiting, we still saw no pigment in the filter.  I did some searching around and fount another method of this experiment which uses energy and the alcohol.  I went and got one more leaf off of the tree.  We ripped it into small pieces and then poured the rubbing alcohol on it.  We mashed the leaf pieces into the rubbing alcohol with a spoon.  Then we put the lid on the jar and put the jar into a little tub of water that had been boiled in the kettle. The energy is the heat from the hot water. 

After nearly an hour of soaking and a water change, here is how dark the rubbing alcohol is: 

We let it soak for another hour and then we put in the coffee filter strips.  I decided to try leaving the jar in hot water to see if that helped to speed up the process.

This photo was taken about an hour or two after putting the strips in - you can see that there is some colour in the strips now.  The first round of this experiment left me with wet white coffee filter strips.

This photo was taken the next day, and it is the pigment we managed to extract from the maple leaf.

Hop on along to the other blogs in this Unit Study Roundup and see what contributions the other bloggers have made to this :-) 

{Free Printable} I Spy: Fall from Playdough and Popsicles

Fall Books for Kids from Look! We're Learning!

Celebrate Fall in Nature like Snoopy from FrogMom

Board Books about Fall from The Jenny Evolution

Fall Leaves Experiment from Tales of Education At Home

Color by Letter/Sight Word Pages from Mrs. Karle's Sight and Sound Reading

High Frequency Word Harvest from Adventures of Adam