Friday, April 1, 2011

Conquering the Colored Carnation, Capillary Action Experiment

The capillary action experiment, involving placing a white carnation in colored water, and watching the color rise, through the stem, into the flower, is one of those old, tried, and true experiments, that I've noticed most of us fail at.

I have to admit to failing at it several times over the last few years. A fact, that was particularly frustrating to me, because I was sure we made it work, the first time we tried it, back when T was somewhere around three.

I wanted the younger children to get the whole wow! effect, that I remembered. But instead, for some reason, although we got some results, they were generally dismal - just the tiniest hint of color making it out to the tips of the petals.

Then, I read (and I have no idea where), that the trick is to use more food coloring.

So, last night when I happened on white carnations at the grocery store, I snatched them up, to try again. This time, we used a lot of food coloring - A LOT - as in 1 tablespoon per quarter cup of water. I was running low on red food coloring, so my attempt at red, and orange, had slightly less food coloring, but the blue, green, purple (which we had in an already mixed form), and yellow, received the entire dose.


Within an hour, we were seeing results.


And this morning - success!!!


It was interesting to watch the orange, and purple. Blue, and yellow rise much faster than the red. And, while our red is not as RED as it might of be, next to the other bright colors, the pink is still pretty.


It's amazing how much more attentively children will listen to a lesson on transpiration, cohesion of water molecules, and capillary action, after being wowed by a bright rainbow bouquet.

Check out Steve Spangler's site for an easy to digest, scientific explanation of this experiment.

And, don't forget, that Sunday there will be lots more science fun for children to be found, over at Adventures in Mommydom's Science Sunday link-up.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

14 comments:

The Wohlleb Family said...

I love this project! Natalie got flowers for her bday and we put the white daisy looking ones in purple water. We were surpised that the flowers turned blue!?!?

Wonder Mom said...

Thank you SO MUCH for the tip! I want to do this experiment with the kiddos this Spring, and now it can be a success! ROCK ON!

Joyful Learner said...

Now, why didn't I think of that! It totally makes sense. I'll be keeping out for carnations so we can redo this again. If not, we'll try the tried and true celery stick. But I rather do the flowers because they look so pretty! Good job with yours! They look beautiful!

Phyllis said...

I believe that this is the most beautiful science experiment! I love this one but carnations are so expensive here!

Christy said...

I have seen this done so many times, but I have never tried it. I know my kids will love it. I'll have to try it soon.

Raising a Happy Child said...

This is definitely one of those "wow" experiments that are also so very simple. We did it once and it worked out pretty well with blue food coloring. I read that you could split the stem and get two colors in one flower, but I didn't try it yet.

Debbie said...

I have been meaning to do this, I wanted to last year but couldn't find any white carnations. I will have to look this year and see if I can find some. I love how yours turned out, they are so pretty!

Melanie said...

I'm definitely going to do this with my daughter. And I will make sure to use lots of food coloring. Such a great way to learn and so pretty too.

Ticia said...

Oooohhhh, that is a good point.

They turned out so pretty.

Little Wonders' Days said...

I loved doing this as a kid...we used queen anne's lace, but same idea. Thanks for the tips on how to do this and get great results!

Beloved's Bride said...

Wow. We did the same project that you did this past week! Very fun! And you are right it is all about the dye!

Thank YOu for the extra links.

Our Country Road said...

Yay! Glad to hear you finally got it! I've not tried this yet with my kiddos-thanks for the tips!

Lori said...

Success! I do remember trying this years ago and it not going so well. I will have to give it a try again.

cleaninup said...

Thanks for this information. My kids and I just did a similar experiment with a snowball (http://cleaninup.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/science-for-kids-capillary-action/). I had heard about the carnation experiment and was glad to get your tips because there's nothing worse than a project that flops when you're trying to wow a kid.