Use this celery science experiment will teach children how plants absorb water from the ground. Using just a couple of common kitchen supplies, this activity is easy to set up at home or in the preschool or kindergarten classroom.
Getting the Celery Science Experiment Ready
We headed to the kitchen to gather a few simple supplies:
- Food coloring
- Freshly cut celery stalks
The kids wanted to dye their water blue and purple so they added about five drops of food coloring to each jar. We dropped one stalk of celery into each jar and then sat back to watch what would happen.
How Do Plants Drink Water?
It takes a little while for anything visible to happen. While the celery was hanging out in the colored water we talked about how plants drink.
I asked the kids how very tall plants get water all the way up to their highest leaves and branches. The kids had lots of very funny creative ideas!
I guided the discussion and asked questions to lead the kids to the conclusion that plants absorb water through their roots in the ground. Water moves from the roots up through the stem and into the leaves through tissue called xylem. We looked closely at the cut celery stalks and could see the xylem. They look like tiny circular veins running up through the stalk.
After about an hour we started to see little blue dots appear on the cut celery. As we studied closer we could see that the blue water was moving up the celery stalk through the xylem!
We left our celery science experiment overnight to develop. The next morning we could easily see how the celery “drank” the colored water. Not only could we see colored water in the xylem, but we could also see how the edges of the stalk were tinged with blue and purple. The kids were ecstatic!
How the Celery Science Experiment Works
As mentioned above, water moves through plants through the xylem. But how does the water defy gravity and move upward to the very highest leaves of a tree?
The answer lies in capillary action, which is defined as the process that plants use to pull water up from the ground. There are several factors at play that make capillary action happen.
First is the force of adhesion, which is the attraction between water molecules and plant fibers.
Second is the force of cohesion, which is the attraction of one water molecule to another water molecule.
Third is transpiration. When water evaporates from the leaves, buds, and petals of a plant, more water is drawn upward to fill in the empty space. It is similar to what happens when a person sucks water through a straw.
All three of these factors combine to enable a plant to draw water from the ground and distribute it throughout the entire plant. Doing this celery science experiment makes it easy to see how capillary action works!
More Science Activities and Ideas
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Excellent explanation of the science. I love that you included adhesion, cohesion, and transpiration.