Why Do Leaves Change Color?
Why do leaves change color? Find the answer through this fun and fascinating experiment that shows children that different colors are always present in leaves, even though they appear to be only green. Leaves look green in the summer because chlorophyll, a green compound, dominates the other colors in the leaf. When autumn rolls around, the chlorophyll begins to break down and the other colors become visible. This experiment uses rubbing alcohol to break down the chlorophyll, simulating the natural process occurring each fall. I think Maria Montessori would have approved of this simple experiment:
The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon.
~Dr. Maria Montessori
Step #1: Gather your materials. Each child will need 1 green leaf, 1 small glass jar, 1 white coffee filter, rubbing alcohol, scissors, a coin or spoon, tape, and foil/ plastic wrap.
Step #6: Given time, the alcohol separates the color pigments, all of which were present in the green leaf. Ours turned out with a lot of yellow, and a tiny bit of orange. Different leaves will reveal different colored pigments. What did you find?
The pigments separated to revealed yellow and a smidgen of orange.
What colors do you see???