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Colorful Flowers


The way a flower’s stems and petals transport water is illustrated by Biology Level 1’s Chapter 4 experiment in the Laboratory Workbook. The workbook experiment demonstrates how the evaporative action from the flower’s petals pulls water up through the stem. As the colored water changes the white carnations, students visually see this process in action.

When we drink through a straw, the water flows up. But it can flow back down as well. Do flower stems behave the same way? This experiment variation will allow students to find out.

I. Prepare the lab notebook
Have students create a new Objective and Hypothesis for this variation.

II. Test the direction of water’s flow through a flower stem
To perform this experiment, have students prepare two small jars with colored water. Cut the flower off of a carnation and place that stem upright in a jar. Cut the flower from a second stem, but flip this stem upside down and place it in the other jar. Tape a small piece of white paper to the exposed end of each stem. Allow a sufficient amount of time for the flower’s capillary action to move the water through the length of the stem.

III. What happens?
Have students record the results they observe. (The paper on the exposed end of the upside-down stem will not show colored water.) What conclusions can students make about the way the stem’s capillary action works?

Feel free to write to us with information about how the experiment variations and expansions are received by your students. We appreciate all feedback.

Taking Away Oxygen in Photosynthesis


The importance of photosynthesis for life on earth is discussed in Chapter 3 of the Biology Level 1 textbook and Laboratory Workbook. The workbook experiment demonstrates the importance of the sun’s energy and water for most plant leaves to survive and produces observable changes that take place when these vary.

The basic “recipe” that yields the food plants manufacturer for themselves is:
Carbon dioxide + water + light = sugar + oxygen

The Lab Workbook experiment examines what happens to leaves when exposure to light, water and attachment to the plant varies. The same series of steps can be applied to learn what happens when air (which supplies the carbon dioxide) is blocked instead of light.

I. Prepare the lab notebook
Have students create a new chart with columns for the various states (such as uncovered in water) and with rows for 10 days of observation (see the chart they completed for Experiment 3 in their Lab Workbook).

II. Block the oxygen process
Instead of using paper to block the light from certain leaves, cover those leaves in plastic wrap to block the air (thus blocking the oxygen exchange process).

III. What happens?
Have students follow the format of the light-and-water experiment to write their Objective, Hypothesis and Observation Results. Review the table of observations with them and help them to arrive at valid conclusions. Had they remembered that oxygen was a critical component when they performed the light-blocking experiment and drew their conclusions?

Feel free to write to us with information about how the experiment variations and expansions are received by your students. We appreciate all feedback.

Asking “What Else?” Is Inside a Cell?

The complex nature and functioning of cells is discussed in Chapter 2 in the Biology Level 1 textbook and Laboratory Workbook. The lab experiment uses the observation and classification skills exercised in our first biology experiment to focus on the structures of cells.

Using Real Science-4-Kids books, you probably know that one of our favorite questions is “What if?” But now, have students use those sharpened powers of observation to expand the laboratory lesson with “What else?”

I. Prepare the Lab Notebook
Have students create a new chart with columns for “Bacteria,” “Plants,” and “Animals” like the one they completed for Experiment 2 in the Lab Workbook.

II. Outside Resources
Allow students to look on the Internet or in other resources such as an encyclopedia for further information about the complexities of cells.

III. What Else?
Have students use their outside resources and the diagrams they completed for the three types of cells to search for 10 additional things that are inside of a cell but are not mentioned in the RS4K text? What else is inside of a cell? Is each in all cell types? Students should note their observations on their chart and then see if they can make additional valid conclusions.

Are your students making the connections between honing their powers of observation and classification and the uses for these skills in understanding the real world? Feel free to write to us with information about how the experiment variations and expansions were received by your students. We appreciate all feedback.

Classifying and Critical Thinking

Chapter 1 in the Biology Level 1 text and Laboratory Workbook guides students through the process of classifying lots of objects in order to illustrate taxonomy, the branch of biology that deals with classifying living things. Being able to determine similar and dissimilar features appropriately not only teaches a biology lesson, it contributes to students’ observation and critical thinking abilities.

The experiment in the Lab Workbook can be extended infinitely to provide more practice in these skills and to go even deeper into the possibilities of subcategories and sub-subcategories. Here are some suggestions for further fun and learning.

I. Think and discuss.
Students may need to create a new table for their observations in which they list features about each item, just like the one in the Results section of their Lab Workbook and also a new table that shows one category but has numerous columns for subcategories.

II. Observe it.
Gather ten to twenty new items to classify, but this time purposefully collect things that could all fit into one general category that the student has selected, such as living or non-living things (or organic and non-organic), white, black, round, smooth, rough, light, heavy, etc.

If the category is “round,” for example, assembled items could include a tennis ball, an orange, a cotton ball, a basket ball, a golf ball, a rubber ball, a cantaloupe, a marble, a Nerf ball, and a plum.

In this example, the subcategories could include “balls” and “food.” Students can then choose one of the subcategories and see if they can create sub-subcategories. (Make a new table to record what is sorted further into these sub-subcategories.) For example, the subcategory of “balls” could have sub-subcategories titled “balls for sports” or “smooth surface balls” and “rough surface balls.”
III. What next?
Discuss how the number of features observed for each item can lead to putting one item in multiple categories. Did students find enough sub-subcategories so that all items were put into at least one? Was it frustrating or fun to find a way to organize all of the items in appropriate (not necessarily right or wrong) categories?