Tuesday, May 01, 2007

An Oldie but a Goodie

Purely by coincidence, both Wolfie and Xavier are studying plants in science at the moment. (Xavier's still whizzing through 7th grade science but he's at least interested enough to try some of the activities--I hesitate to call them "experiments--which is more than I could say about 6th grade science.)

Anyway, yesterday's activity required an emergency trip to the store for celery, so he could put a stalk in colored water to watch it to "demonstrate how water is transported to the leaves," (read: "To watch it change color"). A classic elementary school project, although we always did it with carnations. Celery is cheaper, I suppose. I now have a stalk of celery that is both green and a disgusting shade of purple.

I ordinarily wouldn't consider this blog-worthy, but the boys got all excited about the purple celery and decided to extend the experiment. We now have three carnations--white, yellow and pink--in three vases of water in the front window. They're trying to see if the already colored carnations will take up the color in the water and whether the color will mix, i.e. will the yellow carnation in the blue water turn green or yellow with blue edges? Will the dyed pink carnation take up the blue water and turn purple?

The second and third experiments are with houseplants. Will watering a plant with colored water make variegated leaves or white flowers turn color? We're using a diffenbachia and a Japanese peace lily for this experiment. Xavier is watering the diffenbachia with purple water and Wolfie is watering the lily with pink/red water. This is clearly a longer term experiment and we may end up testing different strengths of color as well (stronger color = more likely to be taken up into the leaves?) Stay tuned...

I'm excited about this mostly because I hope this means we're beginning to revive their love of learning. Maybe "projects" is no longer a dirty word. I'd been disappointed lately because they had zero interest in developing 4H projects to enter in the county fair. Not that they're not participating in 4H and enjoying it, just that they refuse to compete. And in the meantime, we're looking at scholarships and college apps for Klaus and they all want to know "when have you competed?" and "did you win?" One step at a time.

If anyone else tries these experiments at home, let me know how they go? Maybe we can compare results.

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