It is never too early to get kids interested in plants and
the ways Mother Nature has equipped them to survive. Even young tots can grasp
complex concepts, like osmosis, if you create experiments that hold their
attention. Here’s one to get you started: the great celery dye experiment.
This is a great family project that involves celery sticks
that turn colors as they absorb colored water. Read on for instructions on how
to dye celery.
Celery Dye Experiment
Kids know that garden plants don’t eat or drink like people
do. But an explanation of osmosis – the process by which plants uptake water
and nutrients – can quickly get too confusing for young children.
By engaging your younger kids, even toddlers,
in the celery dye experiment, they will get to see plants drinking instead of
hearing an explanation of it. And because changing the color of celery is fun,
the entire experiment should be an adventure.
How to Dye Celery
You don’t need much to get this color changing celery
project underway. In addition to celery,
you’ll need a few clear glass jars or cups, water and food coloring.
Explain to your children that they are about to do an
experiment to see how plants drink. Then have them line up the glass jars or
cups on the kitchen counter or table and fill each one with about 8 ounces of
water. Let them put 3 or 4 drops of one shade of the food coloring into each
Separate the celery packet into stalks with leaves, cutting
a little off the bottom of each stalk. Pull out lighter leafier stalks from the
center of the bunch and have your kids put several in each jar, stirring up the
water and blending in the food coloring drops.
Have your children guess what might happen and write down
their predictions. Let them check on the color changing celery after 20
minutes. They should see the dye color in little dots in the tops of the
stalks. Rip open one piece of celery of each color to trace from the inside how
water is mounting.
Check again after 24 hours. Which colors spread best? Let
your kids vote on the prediction that came to closest to what happened.