How to start

Learning About Biology

We don’t always think about the fact that plants, are in fact, “alive.” Studying them can be a great way to encourage curiosity and an interest in biology.

Step 1

Start a discussion of biology by completing this experiment. All you’ll need is a leaf from a tree, a bowl of lukewarm water, and a small rock.

Step 2

Submerge the leaf in the bowl of lukewarm water. You may want to put a small rock on top of the leaf to make sure it’s completely under the water.

Step 3

After an hour or two, take another look at the leaf. You’ll notice that there are tiny bubbles along the surface of the leaf.

Step 4

Explain to your child that this is an example of photosynthesis — where leaves turn light energy into food. Through pores, or “stomata,” leaves “breathe” in carbon dioxide and “breathe” out oxygen.

Step 5

When the plant is submerged in the water, bubbles of oxygen or carbon dioxide released are trapped and stick on the leaves or petals.

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Exploration Ideas

  • Look under dead trees

    You’ll find many types of plants and animals living under dead trees and piles of mulch or leaves. They help “decompose,” or break down, the tree, using it for food and shelter. Go to a green space near you and carefully look under a fallen tree or rock. Try to draw what you see, or look them up online or in a field guide.

What to Bring

  • Plenty of water, even for short hikes — a gallon per person per day is a good guide
  • Snacks such as fruit or trail mix and empty bags to collect any garbage
  • Sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Lightweight rain jacket


Safety Tips

  • Be mindful of the sun. Use sunscreen, seek shade, and drink plenty of water — even in the winter.
  • Animals have their own natural food supply so please don’t feed them.
  • Fruits and mushrooms can look tasty, but some are poisonous. To be safe, do not eat anything you find growing in the forest.
  • Railroad tracks are for trains only. Keep to the side and stay off the tracks.
  • Remember to be mindful of cars when you’re in a park near a road. Wear bright colors for extra visibility.