Learn about how transpiration works in plants with this classic dyed celery experiment for kids!
This dyed celery experiment is a classic science demonstration that shows how plants use transpiration to suck up water. We really enjoyed this white carnation experiment a couple of years back and decided to repeat the same idea, this time using celery for comparison. The results were just as clear, but maybe not quite as pretty!
empty glass jars
fresh celery stems with the leaves still attached
Wilton Gel Colourings [using this type of colouring is important as liquid dyes and weaker gel colours just don’t work as effectively.]
Fill the glass jars 1/3 full of water and then add 1 tsp of the Wilton gel colour to each one. We found the darker colours worked the best, but you can of course experiment and try all of them! It would be a good discussion to hypothesise why some colours may work better than others.
Cut your celery stems on a diagonal to allow the greatest possible surface area for the coloured water to pass through (like when cutting fresh flower stems to put into a vase.)
Then simply place them into the jars of dyed water and either take photographs or make observational drawings of their appearance straight away. This time we took photos, in our last experiment we made drawings which you can see here.
The dye starts to travel very quickly, and within half an hour we could already see colours moving up the stems.
Within 24 hours the leaves had all been well reached and dyed due to the water reaching them. The girls noted that they could see the clear lines going up the stems and guessed these were to main channels for the water reaching the leaves above.
We took more photos to note the changes that had taken place. The green and blue dyes were the most effective, although the red was also clearly visible too.
This is such a lovely, visual demonstration that even the youngest child can take part and be wowed by it. Older kids can do this for science projects as an easily manageable piece of independent research, with the next step being to find out how it works and why, perhaps comparing it to other flowers and/or vegetables too.
What they are learning as they play:
science: thinking, hypothesising, making comparisons, understanding how water moves through a plant
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