MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: What are some harmless experients I can use with 1-2 grade students?

Date: Fri May 23 00:52:39 2003
Posted By: Kevin Caldwell, Faculty, Neurosciences, University of New Mexico
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 1049432422.Me

Hi, Maria,
All of the experiments related to the extraction of medicianl substances 
from plants that I could think of (or find infomation about) were not so 
harmless.  However, here are a few closely related ideas that I think will 

1.  Make sun tea.  Take a few tea bags, place them in a clear glass 
container, add water (a gallon, more or less, depending on the number of 
tea bags that you use), seal the container and leave it in the sun for a 
few hours.  The sunlight warms the water and extracts the tea.  If you use 
caffeine-free tea, let the children drink their extract.

2.  Separate the pigmanets in a leaf.  This experiment requires 
significant adult supervision and is actually more of a demonstartion than 
hands-on experience for the children.  That said, I have doen this 
experiment for fourth graders and they really liked it!  It works best if 
you have highly colored leaves (e.g., fall leaves).  Please see the 
following web page at the MadSci site for a description of how to perform 
the experiment.

3  Soak rose petals in water for a few days to make fragrant rose water.  
You can speed this up by simmering the mixture on the stove.  
Alternatively, it seems to me that you could speed-up the extraction by 
leaving the mixture in the sun, as described above for preparing sun tea.  
Discard the petals and let the children smell the rose water.  You could 
prepare extracts from petals from different types of roses and let the 
children decide which one they think smells best.

Links to a few MadSci answers to questions about the use of plants as 
sources for medicines.


Finally, here is a link to a web page that describes several medicinal 

I hope that your teaching goes well.  I think that getting children 
involved in science is a fantastic endeavor.

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