Science Fun

Changing of the Leaves



  • 3 green leaves from the same tree
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • 1 glass jar
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paper Strip from a coffee filter
  • Small bowl with hot water in it


  1. Break the all the leaves into tiny pieces and put them in the jar.
  2. Pour rubbing alcohol over the leaves until they are just covered.
  3. Mash and stir the leaves into the rubbing alcohol until the rubbing alcohol turns slightly green.
  4. Cover the jar with plastic wrap.
  5. Put the jar in a bowl of hot water for 50 minutes. Gently swish the jar every 10 minutes to stir up the leaves.
  6. Take plastic wrap off and place paper coffee filter strip into rubbing alcohol. Make sure just one end of the strip is in the alcohol and the other end is near the top of the jar.
  7. Let the paper strip sit in jar for an hour. Then make your observations.

How it Works:

In this science experiment we used the rubbing alcohol and energy (hot water) to separate the colours. You likely saw green, and depending on your leaf type, maybe red, yellow, or orange. Chlorophyll gives leaves their green colour and is so dominant it hides the other colours in the leaves. But in the fall, chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down allowing the other colours to finally shine through and show their beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges.

Extra Experiments:

  1. How do the results change if you leave the leaves in the rubbing alcohol for an hour and a half instead of 50 minutes?
  2. How do the results change if you start with leaves that no longer are green?
  3. How do the results change if you use needles from an evergreen tree?