Science Projects for Kids: Classifying Plants

A disoriented sprout still knows which way is up.
A disoriented sprout still knows which way is up.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The plant kingdom contains some of the most fascinating living things around. And what better way to explore the world of plants than with science projects for kids: classifying plants?

These science projects for kids: classifying plants are simple experiments and activities that will introduce you to some interesting features of plant life and help you cultivate a green thumb of your own.


Follow the links below to learn about fun science projects for kids: classifying plants:

Grassy Brick Experiment

Seeds sprout from a barren brick in this science project. Learn more.

Unfriendly Foliage Poster

Use your drawing and design skills to warn others about dangerous plants.

Sunless Plant Experiment

What would a plant be without the sun? Find out with this project.

Veggie Flowers Science Project

Some delicious vegetables come from plants that produce flowers, too. Learn more.

Venus Flytrap Tips

Here are some tips for taking care of your carnivorous plant.

Leaf Chromatography Experiment

Analyze the pigments that make a leaf green with this colorful project.

Cacti Simulation Experiment

See a demonstration of one way that cacti survive in low-moisture environments.

Disoriented Sprout Experiment

Which way is up? The plants know! Find out more.

Plant Succession Observations

Watch what happens when the wilderness reclaims a field.

Plant Reading and Journaling

Hit the books and do your homework on horticulture.

Ecosystem Exploration

Discover the varieties of life in an ecosystem.

The next science project shows you how to grow grass from a stone.

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Grow a grassy brick.
Grow a grassy brick.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Can you grow grass on a brick? You'll be surprised when you try the grassy brick experiment.

What You'll Need:

  • Non glazed porous brick
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Pie tin
  • Grass seed

Many plants can adapt to very difficult growing conditions. Grass seed, for example, can sprout in less than ideal locations.

Step 1: Soak a non glazed brick overnight in a bowl of water.

Step 2: The next day, put the brick in a pie tin. Set the pie tin in a sunny spot.

Step 3: Pour water over the brick so that it runs down into the tin until the brick is sitting in about 1/2 inch of water.

Step 4: Sprinkle grass seed on the top of the brick. The grass seed will sprout into plants.

Grass is a hardy, harmless plant -- but some plants are more sinister. Keep reading science projects for kids: classifying plants to learn about a creative way to warn others about dangerous plants.

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Not all plants are safe to touch or taste. Make an unfriendly foliage poster showing which plants to stay away from.

What You'll Need:

  • Plant reference books
  • Poster board
  • Markers or paint

People have found ways to use many kinds of plants. Many plants are used for food. Others -- like rubber trees and aloe -- are used to make products. Some have beautiful flowers, and some smell good.

But there are a few plants that are nothing but trouble to humans. If you've ever had poison ivy, you know just what we're talking about!

Step 1: At the library, find a book that tells about poisonous plants. Poisonous plants include:

  • Holly Berries
  • Locoweed
  • Poison Ivy
  • Poison Oak
  • Poison Sumac
  • Potato leaves and stem
  • Rhubarb leaves

Step 2: Make a poster that tells which plants are poisonous and shows what they look like. See if your school or public library would like to display the poster.

The next experiment in science projects for kids: classifying plants shows you what a plant would be without the sun.

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Beans grown in the dark will behave differently than those grown in the light. Find out how with a sunless plant experiment.

What You'll Need:

  • Lima beans
  • Glass
  • Water
  • 2 plastic foam cups
  • Small rocks
  • Sand
  • Potting soil

Step 1: Soak six lima beans overnight in a glass of water.

Step 2: Take two plastic foam cups, and put about 1 inch of small rocks in the bottom of each one. Add 1 inch of sand to each cup, and then add about 4 inches of potting soil to each cup.

Step 3: Plant the six bean seeds, three in each cup. Water each cup to keep the soil moist but not wet.

Step 4: Put one cup on a sunny windowsill and the other in a dark closet. Check on your beans every day to see how they're growing. Are you surprised by the results?

What Happened? After several days, the plants growing on your windowsill will be healthy and green. The plants in the closet will be very pale, but they might be taller than the other plants.

Plant cells have special light receptors. When they don't get enough light, they signal the plant to grow long and thin to seek out a light source.

Since the light in the closet is limited, those plants don't produce chlorophyll, which makes plants green and absorbs sunlight to produce food. If you move the pale plants next to the green plants in the window, the pale plants will become green in time.

Read more science projects for kids: classifying plants to learn how you can grow flowers from your favorite vegetables.

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Did you know that some vegetables actually grow flowers? See it for yourself with a veggie flowers science project.

What You'll Need:

  • Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes, and beets
  • Garden plot (or some pots and potting mix with plenty of sand or vermiculite)

Step 1: Cut the bottom half off some of your root vegetables.

Step 2: Push the top half of each vegetable into some potting mix in a garden or pot. (A potato prefers to grow in water. Put the potato in a jar of water. Half the potato should be underwater, and the potato should not be touching the bottom of the jar. Stick toothpicks in the potato to keep it from touching the bottom.)

Step 3: Keep the veggies well watered. Soon, they'll sprout stems and leaves. And after that, they'll blossom.

Step 4: Notice the different kinds of flowers produced by the different vegetables. What is your favorite kind of flowering vegetable?

Have you ever heard of a carnivorous plant? Keep reading science projects for kids: classifying plants for tips if you've got a plant that's hungry.

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Carnivorous plants can be easy and fun to raise if you give them the right environment. Just follow these Venus flytrap tips!

What You'll Need:

  • Small aquarium or fish bowl or 1 gallon glass jar
  • Peat moss
  • Charcoal (use the kind prepared for house plants)
  • Potting soil
  • Sand
  • Old mixing bowl
  • Water
  • Venus Flytrap plant
  • Insects or tiny bits of raw meat

Step 1: Pour a one-inch layer of crushed charcoal into the bottom of the terrarium.

Step 2: Mix three parts of potting soil with one part sand and one part peat moss in an old mixing bowl. Add water until the mix is moist but not soggy.

Step 3: Put about three inches of the mix into the terrarium. Now dig a small hole for your plant.

Step 4: Carefully remove the Venus flytrap from its pot and plant it in the hole. Put a cover on the terrarium.

You need to keep your plant moist. Most purchased Venus Flytrap plants die because of improper care. The air in your living room is too dry for them. Venus Flytraps are bog plants, so they need humid air and wet soil to survive.

The Venus Flytrap eats insects because it needs nutrients, since bog soils are low in nutrients. You can feed your plant small insects or tiny bits of raw meat. Put a bit of meat on a leaf and gently tap it to make the leaf close.

Be aware that Venus Flytraps are becoming rare because of over collection. Many are collected illegally.

When you buy yours, check the label to see if it is greenhouse raised or collected from the wild. Be sure to only purchase greenhouse raised plants.

The next science project in science projects for kids: classifying plants will reveal all of the colors hidden in a leaf.

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See the rainbow in a leaf with a leaf chromatography experiment.
See the rainbow in a leaf with a leaf chromatography experiment.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Even green leaves have more colors than you may think! See the hidden rainbows they contain with a leaf chromatography experiment.

What You'll Need:

  • Coffee filter
  • Scissors
  • Leaves
  • Coin
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Jar
  • Pencil
  • Tape
  • Foil

Leaves have a green pigment called chlorophyll that they use to capture sunlight. But did you know that leaves also have pigments of other colors to capture colors of light that chlorophyll misses? You can use chromatography to see the many colors in a leaf.

Step 1: Cut a strip one inch wide from a coffee filter. Cut one end of the strip to a point.

Step 2: Place a leaf on the paper 1/4 inch above the cut. Roll the edge of a coin over the leaf, pressing green leaf juice into the paper.

Step 3: Let the paper dry, and repeat the process with three different leaves.

Step 4: Pour a 1/2-inch layer of rubbing alcohol into the bottom of a jar.

Step 5: Tape your paper strip to the middle of a pencil and hang it so that the very tip of the strip touches the alcohol. (The colored strip of leaf "juices" should not touch the alcohol -- you may have to adjust the length of the strip.)

Step 6: Lay a piece of foil over the top of the jar to keep the alcohol from evaporating.

Step 7: Watch carefully as the alcohol moves up the filter paper, carrying the pigments along with it. In 10 to 20 minutes the colors should be separated -- do not allow them to run to the top of the paper.

How many colors do you see? Could you see them in the leaf itself? The finished paper is called a chromatograph. Let it dry and use your chromatograph for a special bookmark.

Read more science projects for kids: classifying plants for an experiment that examines the survival mechanisms of plants that live in low-moisture environments.

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Have you ever wondered how desert plants live on very little water? Find out about some of their distinctive features with a cacti simulation experiment.

What You'll Need:

  • Paper towels
  • Water
  • Cookie sheet
  • Paper clips
  • Waxed paper

Step 1: Wet three paper towels until they are saturated with water but not dripping.

Step 2: Put one of the paper towels flat on a cookie sheet.

Step 3: Roll up the second paper towel, paper clip it to keep it rolled up, and put it on the cookie sheet, too.

Step 4: Put the third paper towel on a piece of waxed paper that is the same size. Roll up the waxed paper and the paper towel together, and paper clip them so they stay rolled up.

Step 5: Leave all three paper towels where they are for 24 hours. Then check them. Here's what you'll find:

The flat one will be dry. The rolled one will be dry or mostly dry. But the paper towel that is rolled up with the waxed paper will still be wet.

Now, you may be asking, "What does this have to do with plants in the desert?"

Here's the answer: Cacti and other desert plants are like the paper towel that is rolled up with waxed paper. These plants have waxy coverings that keep moisture from evaporating into the dry desert air. That's part of the reason they can survive on the little water they get in the desert.

Keep reading science projects for kids: classifying plants for a science project that shows that plants will grow their own way.

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A disoriented sprout still knows which way is up.
A disoriented sprout still knows which way is up.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

No matter how you try to fool them, seeds know which way is up! Watch them struggle towards the ceiling with a disoriented sprout experiment.

What You'll Need:

  • Glass or plastic jar
  • Potting soil
  • Lima bean seeds
  • Water
  • Black paper
  • Tape
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber band

Step 1: Fill a plastic or a glass jar with potting soil, and push a seed right next to the side of the jar where it can be easily seen.

Step 2: Place three more seeds around the jar where they can also be seen.

Step 3: Moisten the soil with water, and check daily to see if the seeds have begun to sprout.

Step 4: Once the seeds have sprouted, cover the outside of the jar with the black paper. Make a lid for the jar with plastic wrap and a rubber band.

For the next 12 days you will be changing the position of the jar. During those 12 days, check the moisture level of the soil each day or two and add a little water whenever needed to keep the soil moist.

  • To begin the position-changing experiment, lay the jar on its side.
  • After three days, turn the jar upside down.
  • After another three days, but the jar back on its side.
  • Finally, set the jar right side up for 3 days.

After the 12 days of position changing, remove the black paper. You will discover that the beans kept changing their growth pattern in order to keep growing upward even though there was no light to show them which way was up.

In the next science activity of science projects for kids: classifying plants, you'll study the way that wilderness can reclaim a field.

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From weeds to trees, see how Mother Nature takes back her land with plant succession observations.

What You'll Need:

  • A field that is in transition
  • Notebook
  • Pen

If you have a lawn, you know that somebody has to mow it all summer long. (Maybe it's you!)

Did you ever wonder what would happen if the lawn didn't get mowed? Other plants might start growing in and around the grass.

After that, small bushes and shrubs would begin to grow. If you live in an area where there are woods, trees would eventually grow.

This process is called plant succession. In some areas, you can see plant succession happening in nature.

Look for land that was once farmland or pasture that has been abandoned.

Once you've found a piece of land to study, check on it several times throughout the year.

Keep a journal and take notes on the land's progress. Nature will gradually reclaim this land, covering it with native plants, shrubs, and trees.

Now get ready to hit the books with the next plant activity in science projects for kids: classifying plants.

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The science and art of growing plants is called "horticulture." Do some plant reading and journaling, and maybe you'll grow a green thumb of your own.

What You'll Need:

  • Books about plants
  • Pen
  • Paper

There's a whole world of plants out there. At the library, find a book about plants, flowers, or gardening. See what you can learn.

Then, do something with what you learned. You might plant your first garden, or grow just one flower.

Afterward, write about the experience. Or, you might make a picture book showing the life cycle of a plant. Be sure to give the book a title and sign the author's name -- yours!

Explore an ecosystem and discover the diversity of life with the next science project in science projects for kids: classifying plants.

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An eco-strip is a small strip of land that is part of an ecosystem. Create your own eco-strip and go on an ecosystem exploration.

What You'll Need:

  • Sticks or large rocks
  • Field guides to rocks, plants, and animals
  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Markers

You can make an eco-strip by marking off a section of land with sticks or large rocks. Choose a place such as a park, forest, beach, or other natural area.

Then, study every detail of your eco-strip. This is a fun activity to do with a friend, because each of you will notice different things.

Use field guides to help you identify rocks, plants, and animals; record your findings in a notebook.

Identify as many of the eco-strip's plants, animals, and rocks as you can. Look for signs of animals, such as tracks.

Also look for ways in which humans have affected the eco-strip in good or bad ways. Maybe hikers have left trash, or maybe people have put out a basin of water that animals need in hot weather.

Take notes about everything you observe, and make a detailed map of the eco-strip.

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