STEAM Saturday – Coloring Carnations! (4/1/2023)

What will happen when placing a white carnation in water with food coloring?  Let’s predict what is going to happen!  Take the time to discuss the different possibilities.  It won’t take long to set up your experiment but be patient, it may take up to 24 hours to see the full results.  This is a great visual for kids in learning how plants work.  Now let’s watch as the color rises through the stem and throughout the petals like magic!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Clear jars (or flasks)
  • Food coloring (Feel free to choose as many colors as you would like. Just remember you will need more jars and flowers if you choose to do more than 3 colors.)
  • Paper & pencil to write your hypothesis
  • White carnations
  • Water

Before you begin, make sure everyone has their hypothesis written down.  Have your kids predict which flower they think will result in the darkest shade.  Which color will be the slowest?  How long will it take for the flowers to change colors?  Ask them if they think the flowers will change colors at all?

Now that you have all of your supplies and hypothesis, it is time to set up your experiment.  Grab your first jar, add 10 drops of food coloring and fill your jar with water.  You might need to add some more food coloring if the color isn’t dark enough once you add the water.  Repeat this process with the other jars.

It is time to put the white carnations into the jars!  Place one or two carnations in each jar.  Here is where everyone will need to be patient.  It can take up to an hour before you start to see any results.  A couple of fun ideas while they are waiting include drawing their experiment and talking about transpiration (the process of the water running through the stem and all of the petals as the flowers drink it up).

In 24 hours, the white carnations should completely change colors.  If your kiddos have more questions about transpiration, you could take one of the flowers and cut open the stem to take a look at the internal structure.  You should be able to see the tube in the center of the flower stem (the xylem).  This is the path the water takes up the stem and out into the flower petals.

You all know how much we love rainbows!  Well, you can make a colorful rainbow with your carnations.  To do this, you will have to move one flower from each vase into the next one.  For example, take your yellow flower and place it in the red dye jar.  You will notice that the carnation will start to turn orange.  Not only is this fun to watch, but it also makes a beautiful centerpiece for your table!

See the full experiment and the science behind it from Kitchen Counter Chronicles HERE.

As always, get as creative as you want, and above all, have lots of fun learning together!

We’ll see you right back here next Saturday for another STEAM Saturday activity!  Scroll through the rest of our website to learn how Critchlow Adkins is Building Brighter Futures for the children and families we serve!

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