How Do Freezing Temperatures Affect Plants?
Introduction | Puzzle |Article | Experiments
Most plants contain more than 85% water. The water in the living parts of
plant cells contains dissolved salts, sugars, and other substances that act
like anti-freeze. Conduct two cool experiments to explore what happens when water freezes and how plants react to freezing temperatures.

Experiment 1: What Happens When Water Freezes?

Before digging into frozen plants, let's take a closer look at water. What do you think happens when water freezes? Let's explore!

Materials:

  • two plastic cups or glass jars
  • sugar
  • spoon
  • two pieces of masking tape
  • Data sheet 1: What happens when water freezes?

Add water to each cup or jar until it's half full. Mark the water level with a piece of masking tape, so the water is even with the top of the tape.

Methods:

  • Cup #1: Leave the water as is.
  • Cup #2: Add two large teaspoons of sugar to the water. Stir to dissolve it.

Predict:
Record predictions on your data sheet.

Place both containers in the freezer overnight. Summarize what you see when you take them out of the freezer.

data sheet
Data Sheet 1
Experiment 2: What Happens When a Leaf Freezes?

Not all plants react to freezing temperatures the same way.

Materials:

  • select several leaves - choose a variety of leaves from the garden plus a tropical houseplant leaf
  • plastic bags
  • Data sheet 2: What happens when plants freeze?

Methods:

  • Place each leaf in a plastic bag and place in the freezer overnight.

Predict:
Record predictions on your data sheet.

Summarize what you see the next day, after you take the leaves out of the freezer.

data sheet
Data Sheet 2

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