Last summer we regrew green onions and celery from stubs.It worked so well that the celery is now as tall as my two-year-old:
We wanted to see if we could do the same thing with lettuce. We put a Romain lettuce stub in a small bowl of water and waited…
It’s day 14 and we have some respectable looking lettuce leaves. Cool. Huh?
Along with this project we read The Magic School Bus Gets Planted. After reading the book, my five-year-old asked, “How do plants make food out of water and air?” Or…
I could have given him a one word answer (photosynthesis!). But he asked a thoughtful question and I thought it deserved an equally thoughtful answer.
First we talked about what is water made of?
Atoms: atoms are tiny, tiny building blocks. They are like the mini-legos of life. Atoms are so small you cannot see them with your eyes or even a magnifying glass. You need a special looking machine (an electron microscope) to see the biggest atoms. Some atoms like to hangout with other atoms:
And others prefer to keep to themselves:
When a group of atoms hang out together, it is called a molecule.
Water is made of molecules. Water molecules look like this:
Air is also made of molecules. It is made of lots of different molecules, but the molecule that plants use is called carbon dioxide. It is a carbon atom with two oxygen atoms:
Now let’s talk about food, like sugar. Yup, that’s right… some plants use sugar for energy. But they don’t eat it. They make it. Here is what one type of sugar looks like:
Let’s check if we have all the right building blocks. To make sugar we need carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Can we get all of those atoms from water and air?
YES! From water we get hydrogen and oxygen, and from air we get more oxygen and carbon. Here is how plants use air and water to make food:
The “big dance” that rearranges the atoms is called PHOTOSYNTHESIS. Photosynthesis means light (photo) and making-stuff (synthesis). Plants take water and air and use light to turn atoms into food. If you have the right building blocks and the right conditions, you can make almost anything.
Note: My seven-year-old liked this discussion, but it was a bit too much for my five-year-old. If this is too much detail for your tykes, here is the two sentence explanation:
Q: How do plants make food out of air and water?
A: Under the right conditions air and water can be turned into sugar (and other foods). The process of turning air and water into food for plants is called photosynthesis.
Extension activity: Playdoh Molecules
What you’ll need
- Different colors of playdoh
- Cut up straws
Form the playdoh into balls and connect them using bending straws bits. See if you can make all the different molecules in this posts.
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