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Yellow, Orange and Red

11 October 4:00 am
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Children often ask “why” questions.  One “why” question typically asked during this time of the year is,  “Why do leaves change colors?”.  The answer to this question follows.

The process in which plants turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar is called photosynthesis.  A chemical called chlorophyll helps make photosynthesis happen. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color.

During the fall and winter, there is not enough light for photosynthesis.   Without photosynthesis, the green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the green fades away, the yellow and orange colors of the leaves become visible.  Some of these colors were already in the leaves, they were just covered up by the green chlorophyll.

Some sugar (glucose) is trapped in the leaves when photosynthesis stops. Sunlight combined with cool temperatures causes the glucose in the leaves to turn red. The brown color of leaves is made from wastes left in the leaves.

All of these conditions cause the change in fall foliage.

Why don’t you suggest the kids rake a pile of leaves, look at the varying colors, and then have fun jumping in, playing in and tossing the leaves.  Because after all, fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

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