You’ll need

  • A fresh, light-coloured flower with a long stem, or celery sticks with leaves
  • Water
  • Food dye
  • A jar or empty drink bottle
  • A magnifying glass (optional)

What to do

  1. Gather your materials on a flat surface, like a desk or kitchen table.
  2. Half fill the jar or bottle with water.
  3. Add some food dye to colour the water.
  4. Place the flower or celery stick in the jar of coloured water and leave for a few hours.
  5. After a few hours, inspect the flower petals or celery leaves for signs of colour.
  6. If using celery, you can cut the stalk to show the cross-section of coloured channels. A magnifying glass can help you to see these clearly.

Questions to ask

Can you see where the coloured water has gone? How did it get there?

What other objects around the house or in nature can soak up liquid like this? (Look for paper towels, sponges, old socks and brown paper bags.)

What do you think would happen to paper towel if one end was in the coloured water?

What's happening

The coloured water moved up the celery or flower stalk through narrow, straw-like channels (called xylem). Plants need water and take up water from their roots to their leaves through the xylem.