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Do you know the scientific reason leaves change color in the fall?

Posted at 9:06 PM, Dec 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-05 23:06:29-05

Chlorophyll is the compound in green plants that gives them their color. It helps plants absorb sunlight and undergo the process of photosynthesis.

In the fall, leaves change color because their chlorophyll is breaking down and going away.

Most plants have many colors inside of them and the best way to see them is through a color extraction process called chromatography.

To see how it works, we turned to our friend Cynthia Checketts at Clark Planetarium.

What you'll need:
A pile of leaves of different colors
Rubbing Alcohol
Warm to hot water
Coffee filters
A few small cups - small ones for the leaves and then large ones for the water

The Steps:
1.) Break up a few same-colored leaves into one of the smaller cups
2.) Pour a small amount of warm water into one of the larger cups
3.) Put the small cup of leaves into the warm water of the larger cup. It's ok if the small cup floats a little bit.
4.) Pour the rubbing alcohol into the small cup of leaves, just enough to cover the leaves.
5.) Cut a strip from the coffee filter and place it in the cup with the leaves and alcohol.
6.) Wait for up to 30 minutes.
7.) After you wait, you should start to see the alcohol moving up the filter, caring with it the colors of the leaves.
8.) Examine the papers to see the different colors in each cup of leaves.

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