Moving On Up: Capillary Action II

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Learners explore capillary action in plants (such as plants ability to move water from roots to leaves) in an investigation called Paper Blooms. Placing paper flowers in water mixed with food coloring, learners observe how water moves through a flower. Students can then try the activity using different fluids such as soapy water or salty water. In the investigation Toothpick Tricks learners observe slightly different capillary action in simple models of flowers made with toothpicks.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1/2 liter water bottle
  • flower template
  • pie tins
  • notebook paper
  • scissors
  • food coloring
  • sponges
  • other liquids (salty water, soapy water, vinegar, etc.)
  • various kinds of paper
  • food coloring
  • 16-oz plastic cups
  • flat toothpicks
  • straw or eye dropper
  • rounded toothpicks
  • student journals and writing tools


  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All rights reserved, State of New Jersey, 2006

Funding Source:

  • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001