Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Teaching children about phototropism

Phototropism is when plants follow their light source. Sunflowers are known for it, but if you're interested, here's a super easy way to witness it firsthand with your kids. First, buy a small pot of oxalis or "false shamrock" - it's easy to find. Plant it in a pot that's a bit too big, because these plants, while beautiful at home, are actually weeds and will grow as such.

See these great flowers? But (sigh) they're facing the wrong way, and I only have the word "bloom" on one side. Mark your pot easily with an "x" or fun word, or with a complete work of art on one side only.
What gorgeous blooms...if only they would face us!
When the day is done, notice how the flowers close for the night.
Now turn your pot around so that your artwork/word side is facing out, and your blooms are facing in. (The blooms are facing in...it's just hard to see here.) And go to sleep!
Viola! When you wake up, your flowers will have turned to face the morning sun, and your plant now can be photographed with your beautiful pot!

But of course, they'll turn again as soon as your turn your word/artwork back to face you. Oh well!

Parents - this is a sure thing! The flowers will always turn, and kids who are interested in this phenomenon will always be delighted to see that their flowers have changed direction! Oxalis also is a great plant to have for all of you who claim to not have a green thumb. It is so prolific and it blooms year round.

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