Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Finding Chlorophyll In Leaves

In the fall, when the days get shorter, trees stop the process photosynthesis.  When this happens the chlorophyll, the pigment that makes the plant green, starts to fade and other colors, yellows, reds and oranges, then come out that have been in the leaves all summer but we were unable to see.

To find the chlorophyll that is in the leaves we did this simple experiment.  Using three different kinds of leaves, we used wood vine, sugar maple and silver maple leaves, we chopped them all in little, tiny pieces.  The smaller the better.

We put the leaves in three jars and covered the leaves with rubbing alchol and loosely covered the jars with the lids.

The jars were set in a shallow dish with a couple of inches of hot water.  Every few minutes we would swirl the leaves in the jar and put new hot water in the pan to keep the jars hot.  We did this for about an hour until the alcohol in the jars was dark green.

We removed jars from water and uncovered. Into each jar we placed a strip of filter paper (we used a milk filter but coffee filters could be used) so that one end was in the alcohol. The other end we bent over the top of the jar.  We left the strips in the jars for a few hours and the alcohol traveled up the paper bringing the colors with it. After a couple hours the colors were on the strips and the alcohol had dried.  We were able to see different shades of green, yellows and even some red chlorophyll from the leaves.


Amy Dingmann said...

We did this experiment in a co-op we were in - it was amazing to me! I was thirty before I realized that the leaves don't actually *change* color, they are just revealing the color that has been there all along. Great experiment!

kariwhite said...

Love this experiment! I've pinned it so I can refer back when my oldest is a little older. :)