Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The experiment that didn't work - Why?

We toddled off down to my friends cottage last night as we all love it down there. It was cold but dry and as Bob was not feeling himself we decided to do a few things close to home there instead of going gruffalo hunting again.

We armed ourselves with crayons, pencils and paper. First off we decided to do some bark rubbing. This wasn't as easy as I thought it would be as most of the trees seem to be quite smooth. But we found a rough one and tried it out.

tree rubbing.

the result of the rough tree. 

So we then thought we would try leaf rubbing. Probably the wrong time of year for this as very few trees have leaves on them just yet. But we found a few to try with.

this worked better than the photo shows

the fern leaf worked well. 

So then we decided we would pick some flowers, these were picked on private land and so it was done legally. We picked twenty snowdrops, enough to split into four of five colours and a few daffodils. 

So when we got home we set up our experiment. 

We got four small bowls and Bob chose four different food colours.

Bob added water to the bowls and measured half a teaspoon of food colouring into each. 

I then got Bob to split the snowdrops into four piles. Division is something he has not covered in his education yet so I got him to put them into four piles one at a time. Experiments can be educational in more than one way.

We then discussed what we expected to happen and why, Bob learnt that the flowers would be thirsty and that when he is thirsty he drinks and so the flowers would drink the water up and as the water was coloured the flowers would change colour. 

So we left the flowers over night, came down this morning to look at them

next morning

and for some strange reason every one of them is still white!! 

Not a hint of a tint anywhere - would somebody like to tell me what went wrong?

I decided to freeze the coloured water in ice cube trays and next week we will do experiments with them, 

Ok having read some nice peoples comments, I added a chrysanthemum and a daffodil to some blue food dye, and 30 hrs later I have these. 

I really like the daffodil

I mentioned on twitter that I had also added snowdrops to the blue gel colouring and they had changed colour 36 hrs later, sadly they had also wilted but as requested here is a picture of them. It is out of focus but clear enough you can see the result.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


  1. What pulls the coloured water up is transpiration and I guess different plants do it at different rates. Maybe spring flowers do it slowly because the water in the ground below them is often frozen. Try using your coloured water with sticks of celery. That transpires fast and will pull the colour up the stringy bits that run up the ribs


    1. thank you Jane. So we were just to impatient then.Will look for celery in the shops next week.

  2. I love to experiment, I first saw the food colour one on Science Sparks, it is a great idea, I never thought to try with snowdrops, but I won't bother based on your attempt! The bark rubbings look good though.

    1. I think that actually worked really well, going to do it next year, or even this year if we still have some.

  3. Love the daffodil it's very pretty. Will remember this to do with the girls

  4. I wouldn't be able to answer your question but they looked lovely in the end. I have trouble trying to press flowers let alone dye them! x

    1. thank you, I have never tried flower pressing.

  5. I agree with the above as to why it didn't work with the snowdrops. Non technical version but I also wonder if the petals are too fleshy and condensed to show? Daffodils and carnations (traditionally used) have thinner petals and wider capilleries?

    I hate it when science experiments go wrong!

    Nipping over from the Country Kids linky.

    1. thank you for that. its like baking some things work and some things dont.


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