Lighting Up Celery Stalks

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In this activity, learners conduct a series of hands-on experiments that demonstrate how the working of plants' veins, known as capillary action, enables water to travel throughout the length of a plant. Learners discover how the forces of water cohesion and adhesion contribute to the process of capillary action.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • Wax paper, cut into small squares
  • Droppers
  • Clear plastic cups
  • Colored water (use food dye of any color)
  • Coffee filters, cut into thin strips about two inches long
  • Magnifying lenses
  • Tape
  • Celery stalks (fresh with leaves on top of stalk)
  • Scissors


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Education, Science Friday


  • All rights reserved, Science Friday,