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Leaf Chromatography Science Experiment for Kids

With this easy science experiment, children can see the different pigments found in leaves to help answer the question, "Why do leaves change color?"
Keyword: Fall, Science

Materials

Instructions

  • Gather leaves from outside. Make sure they are leaves you can touch safely. If possible, gather leaves that are different colors.
    Break the leaves up into tiny pieces and put them into a jar. Leave the stems out.
    Option: We put different colored leaves all together in one jar. If you have several leaves of the same color you could keep them separate and use one jar per color (Red leaves in one jar, yellow leaves in a second jar... and so forth) You would just need to repeat the experiment for each jar.
    Use the blender to break up the leaves more.
    Carefully pour the rubbing alcohol into the jar so the leaves are covered.
    Fold the paper towel at the top so it can hang over the top of the jar. We used a piece of tape to secure the paper towel so it wouldn't fall into the jar. You want the paper towel to be in a vertical position. Let is sit undisturbed. We left ours overnight, however the experiment is done when the paper towel is dry.
    Observe the strips of paper towel. Did the pigments separate? What colors do you see? Are some parts lighter and some parts darker? Refer back to the chart to talk about your findings and what types of chemicals can be found on your paper towel from the leaves.