Falling Leaves

FALLING LEAVES

Some trees stay green the whole year round while others lose their leaves in the fall and winter and grow new leaves in the spring. If you’ve ever seen trees lose their leaves in the fall, you may have noticed that the leaves turn from green to yellow, red, or orange before eventually falling to the ground.

QUESTION

Where do the leaves get their colors?

MATERIALS

4– 5 spinach leaves 1 drinking glass Spoon Nail polish remover — ask a parent for help in getting this Coffee filter Scissors Tape Pencil

Procedure

falling leaves

Falling Leaves Science Fair Project

Tear the leaves into small pieces. Place the pieces into the bottom of the glass and mash them together with a spoon. Add several teaspoons of nail polish remover to the leaf mush. Wait until the leaves settle at the bottom of the nail polish remover. If the remover does not cover all the leaves, add enough so that they are totally covered. Cut a rectangle from the coffee filter. It should be slightly narrower than the glass. Tape the rectangle to the pencil and, when the leaves are settled, place the pencil across the top of the glass so that the coffee filter rests in the nail polish remover without touching the leaves. Let the glass sit for several hours.

WHAT’S HAPPENING

You should see many colors work their way up the coffee filter. The green you see comes from the chemical that makes leaves green — chlorophyll. But you should also see other colors, like red, yellow, and orange. These come from different chemicals that are also found in green leaves. During the spring and summer, photosynthesis produces so much chlorophyll you can see only the green color in the leaves. But as the days get shorter, less chlorophyll is produced and the green fades away so that you can finally see the other colors. When the green is gone, the leaf is not far from falling to the ground.