From a Wondering to an Investigation of Phenomena

From a Wondering to an Investigation of Phenomena photo

Second-grade students across the district wondered why leaves change colors in the fall. Deasy students in Mr. Battaglia’s, Ms. Dellavecchia’s, Ms. DePietro’s, Ms. Gordon’s, Ms. Haff’s and Ms. Notice’s classes, and Gribbin students from Ms. Brunhuber’s, Ms. Barchi’s, Ms. Elias’, Ms. Gallo’s and Mr. Gullo’s classes collected leaves during nature walks.

All of the students separated the leaves by color and took part in a two-day lesson sequence led by District Science Coordinator Alexa Doeschner. The lesson was designed last year in collaboration between Mrs. Doeschner and first-grade teacher Mrs. Antoinette Hatzopoulos. 

During the activity, students mashed the leaves to extract the color and used special chromatography paper to separate the plant pigments. They also predicted the color that would show up the next day on the chromatography paper based on the color of their leaves. The following day, students were surprised to find that not only did the colors they predicted extract onto the paper, but other hidden colors also appeared. The classes discussed that although only green is seen in leaves during the summer months, fall colors are also present. As the season changes from summer to fall, less sunlight leads to less green pigment in the leaves, allowing the other colors to show through.