Rainforest Plant Experiments
Experiment with some of the rainforests plant superpowers using simple household items:
Waxy leaves, drip tips and downward pointing leaves
- Baking paper or regular paper
1. Cut out several common leaf shapes using baking paper and regular paper. Baking paper is a good material that represents leaves with a waxy coating.
2. Fold them in ways that resemble real leaves and do some experiments. What happens when you sprinkle water onto them? Which becomes waterlogged and heavy? If they have drip tips, does water channel down from them?
Big leaves, fan shaped, small leaves
- 3 sheets of regular paper
1. Take three sheets of paper.
2. Cut out a large leaf with stem from the first, fold the second into a paper fan, and for the third piece of paper cut out the shape of a branch with leaves on both sides.
3. It’s time to experiment! Hold each of these in front of a fan or blow on them. Which shape makes it easier for wind to pass through? Which have good structural strength? Which have large total surface areas? What advantage would a large surface area have for a leaf on the forest floor?
A strong base
- Plastic bottles with lids
- Stick, small rod or pipe
- Masking tape
- Clay or playdough
1. Cut a plastic bottle in half and keep the top part with the mouth and lid.
2. Flip it upside down so it looks like a funnel (no lid needed) and fix the mouth part onto a stick, small rod or pipe with masking tape. This is your model tree! You may like to decorate it to make it even more tree-like.
3. It’s time to experiment! To stand the tree on a flat surface, secure your tree in place with a blob of clay or playdough. When you blow on or fan it, does it fall? Take more clay and make wide buttress roots at the base. Does it still fall? How about if you made the roots larger? Experiment adding small stones to the top to make it heavier. What happens?