Plant Piping

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Learners build models to learn about the special cells and structures that plants use to move water from their roots up through the stems and leaves. The celery-in-colored-water demonstration serves as the basis for their models. Learners use paper towels to model how leaves evaporate moisture into the atmosphere, and fill straws with paper towels to model how plant stems carry water from the earth to the leaves. They construct two models, with a large leaf and a small leaf, and measure how much the different leaves allow to evaporate overnight. The lesson plan includes handouts, background information, and suggested extension activities.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
4 to 24 hours

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 3 Canning or mayonnaise-type jars
  • Clear drinking straws
  • Paper plates
  • Clear plastic 8–10 oz drinking cups
  • Plastic knives
  • Leaves from your house, neighborhood, or schoolyard
  • 2 bunches of celery
  • 1 houseplant with medium to large sized leaves
  • Non-sealable sandwich bags (2 to 5)
  • Scotch tape
  • Paper towels
  • Red food coloring (blue also works)
  • Magnifying lenses
  • 2 plastic lunch trays
  • 2 dish towels
  • Plastic wrap
  • Scissors
  • Knife
  • 3 gallons of water
  • Permanent markers
  • Chalkboard, overhead, or chart pack and writing implements
  • Materials to photocopy: Science Background and Student Procedure


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Rate

Informal Categories

  • 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


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • NASA