Science of Trees Kiwi Crate

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Travis’s crate from Kiwi Co. this month was about the way trees and plants take nutrients from the roots upwards, in seeming defiance of gravity. Travis loved every element of this “capillary action” crate… and for good reason!

First, we needed to see capillary action in, well, action, with Capillary Action Art. Using the provided double-sided tape dots and clear slides, Travis attached on three string stems and 3 coffee filter paper flowers.

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He added the provided binder clips on either side of the slide’s bottom, and two additional clips to hold everything in place. Clever: now the blender clips meant the slide could stand upright over the provided paint tin.

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He dripped liquid watercolors into three of the compartments. There was red and yellow watercolor, and his booklet suggested combining them in the third compartment to make orange.

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Almost instantly, the color was bleeding up the stems.

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Travis was practically shaking with amazement as he watched this, especially because of how fast it happened.

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When it reached the tissue “flowers,” he was ecstatic.

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Kiwi must have known this would be a big hit; there are enough materials to do the project twice. Needless to say, we repeated it instantly.

As a nice finishing touch, you can use additional double-sided tape dots to place the slides into a cardboard frame, and save your artwork. Talk about STEAM!

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The second activity was to Build a Balancing Tree. This required slotting together two wooden pieces as the trunk, and inserting that into a wooden base.

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Wood leaves and roots allow your little engineer to tip the tree one way or another.

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At first, Travis seemed disappointed. But then we put the tree to the test in a Tilting Tree Game. Roll the dice to add leaves or roots to one of the four quadrants… but if you roll the (!) symbol, there’s a natural disaster! This can be a tornado (blowing on the tree), earthquake (shaking the box it sits on), or forest fire (removing the leaves from certain colored sections).

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Travis cackled every time we thought our tree was nearly complete but then disaster struck.

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Okay, so this isn’t perhaps the nicest way to teach kids about natural disasters, but it sure had him thinking about the stability that a tree’s roots provide, and was a ton of fun.

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We concluded with two additional activities from the booklet. First, you can demonstrate the most mundane capillary action of all with a paper towel. Pretend to spill a little water or juice on the table (Travis thought it was quite funny that mom made a mess on purpose) and then quickly place a paper towel over it. The fibers act just like the root system of a plant!

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Next, we repeated a classic flower-dyeing experiment, but with a slight twist. Use any white flowers for the game, such as carnations or roses. Trim the stems at an angle, then carefully slit the stems down the middle.

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Fill two cups with lukewarm water and add 20 drops food coloring (in different colors) to each cup.

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Arrange two flowers so that the halved stems dangle one into each cup. I found it useful to use a paper clip to hold them in place, so the flowers didn’t tip.

Within just an hour or two, we could already see a pretty tint… on each half of the flower!

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By morning, the colors were vibrant and split evenly down the middle, a fantastic visual of capillary action.

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We finished with two fun suggested reads: The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and Tell Me Tree by Gail Gibbons. In sum, we loved this crate!

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