Carrot Root Fun

This lesson developed by Jim and Leona Meeks
Recommended Ages: Preschool and Early Elementary

What can I learn about roots from experimenting with a carrot?

What You Need
  1. 3 Carrots
  2. Sharp knife
  3. Cutting board
  4. Glass
  5. Water
  6. Red food coloring

What You Do

Experiment #1
  1. Fill a glass half full with water.

  2. Cut the end tip off of a carrot. Ask an adult to help you!

  3. Put the carrot in the glass of water.

  4. Put the glass near a window that lets in sunshine.

  5. Watch the carrot for a few days.

    What Is Happening
    The carrot itself is really what we call a "taproot." This is a big and main root that grows straight down into the ground. Along its sides, little roots grow, too. Some trees, plants and bushes have a major taproot; others do not. Roots are really important! They hold a plant in place when it is windy. They keep soil around the plant . And most of all, roots conduct water from the soil up to the plant.

Experiment #2
  1. Repeat the first experiment with a new carrot.

  2. But this time put 10 drops of red food coloring into the glass of water.

  3. Put the carrot in the water for several days.

  4. Put the carrot on the cutting board and with the help of an adult, cut the carrot in half. Look inside. You will see red coloring in the tubes of the carrot that go from the bottom to the top of it. This shows you that water was being absorbed by the bottom or tip of the carrot and traveling up the inside of the carrot. This is how plants and trees get water from their roots.

  5. You can repeat this same experiment but this time cut the carrot in a cross section. Then you can look at how the carrot is structured from that point of view.

    What Is Happening
    Radishes, beets, turnips and parsnips are also taproots. You might want to get some of these and cut them to see how they are made. It also is interesting that we eat many taproots! Try steaming, baking or eating these taproots raw! As you think about plants that we eat, check out which veggies we eat that are the stem parts, the leaves, or the flowering part of the plant. Mmmmmm. Some plants, stems, roots, taproots and flowers are delicious!