Colorful Flowers Part 1-How Does the Stem Work?

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Students will be able to describe the function of the stem by completing an investigation.

Big Idea

How do they get those bright, pretty flowers? This lesson will show students how this happens and help them understand the function of the flower' stem.

Materials and Prep

10 minutes

Materials Needed: 

  • One copy per student of the Flower and Colored Water Experiment Recording Sheet included as a PDF with this lesson.
  • White carnations or daisies
  • Food coloring (I used a box of the neon food coloring that has four colors.  The basic colors would work too.)
  • Containers filled with small amount of water that will hold the flowers (To make it look more scientific, I use beakers, but any containers will do)



Prior to the investigation, I prepare the flowers. I mix the entire bottle of food coloring from the box with 1 1/2 cups water in the beaker. I make a fresh cut on the stem of the flowers and place the flowers in the colored water. I prepared 4 sets like this, one of each color for each table group. However, this is not necessary. One carnation would work for the entire class if you are unable to do multiple set ups.


10 minutes

I pass out the recording sheet and have the students write their names on the sheet.  I then place one container of colored water with carnations at each table.  I say to the students, Today we are going to be doing an investigation.  I have taken food coloring and added it to water. I want you to look closely at the flower and water.  We know that scientists make observations all the time.  When we make an observation, we use our senses to notice what is going on.  We are going to make some observations about our flowers right now. I want you to record your observations on your sheet. You are going to draw exactly what our investigation looks like right now.  Make sure you include what the flower and the water looks like on your recording sheet.

I give the students time to record their observations.  We then move on to make our predictions about what will happen.  



10 minutes

After the students have completed their initial observations, I say to the students, When scientists carry out an investigation or an experiments, they often make predictions.  Do you know what a prediction is?  That's right. A prediction is a really good guess.  We are now going to think about what might happen to our flowers if we leave them in the colored water.  How do you think they will change.  What will happen to the flowers? What will happen to the water?

I want you to record what you think will happen on our recording sheet. Look at the second container of flowers on the sheet.  Use your crayons to color in the flowers and water to show your prediction. 

I give the students time to work and I circulate around the room. I invite the students to share with me their predictions.  See video.  There is a broad range in their predictions.  I press them to tell me "why" they think it may happen.  I want them to be able to articulate scientific ideas when making a prediction and this is a starting point.  Some of them have some amazing involved rational for their prediction and others are still at very elementary stages as reflected by their prediction

After the students have made their predictions, I collect their papers and hold on to them until we revisit the flowers in about five days.


10 minutes

After the students make their prediction, I partner them up with another students and have them share their predictions.  I want the students to practice sharing their rationale for their prediction. I encourage the students to ask "why" if their partner does not share the "why" of their prediction.  I then collect the prediction sheets and hold on to them so we have them when we revisit the investigation.

There are two options for how to proceed with this investigation.  You can place the containers with flowers in the classroom and have the students watch the gradual change or you can "hide' the flowers for a dramatic reveal.  I am sure there are educational merits to either approach.  I like the"shock" of a big reveal (and I also appreciate not having colored water spilled on my carpet).  I take the containers and place them in our workroom.  We will be revisiting them in a few days.  Click on this link for the continuation of this lesson.