Autumn leaf experiment

Includes: Outdoors, Nature and the great outdoors

Activity time:
1 meeting

Age:
10+

Cost:
Low
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A new leaf

This fun experiment will help girls discover what colour the leaves will turn in autumn.

Overview

Follow the steps below for each type of leaf and compare results.

  1. Get girls to put on the gloves, tear the leaves into pieces and place them in a glass.
  2. Add just enough isopropyl alcohol to cover them. Cover the glass with plastic wrap.
  3. Stand the glass in a dish half-full of hot water for 30 minutes, until the alcohol turns green.
  4. Cut a strip of filter paper about 2cm wide and tape it to the centre of a pencil. Balance the pencil across the top of the glass so the strip just touches the alcohol mixture. Some of the mixture will travel slowly up the filter paper.
  5. After 30-90 minutes the pigments will begin to separate. You’ll see different shades of green, and the colour the leaf will turn in autumn.

Planning checklist

Safety notes

When using isopropyl alcohol, wear gloves and follow the instructions on the bottle. Make sure there is adequate adult supervision.

If an activity involves touching plants, make sure girls wash their hands afterwards.

Section Number of girls per adult
Rainbows 5
Brownies 8
Guides 12

How many adults are needed?

Use this calculator to find out the ratio of girls to adults that is required for this activity

Calculator
2 adults needed