Sometimes, you set out to try one experiment, but then end up with results completely different from what you expected. That is how this experiment turned out at my house. I kind of love it when experiments “fail,” because that is where the true scientific process begins! See if you and your kids have the same results in this fun and fascinating pine branch hardiness experiment.
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You can use our investigations as a jumping-off point for your own science experiments on pine branches.
Fascinating and Fun Pine Branch Hardiness STEM Experiment
What you’ll need to set up the pine branch hardiness experiment:
- Real pine branches
- Mason jars (we used four at a time)
Pine Branch Hardiness Round 1
Our original idea was to see which liquid helped the pine branch live longest. We filled four mason jars with one of the following:
- Tap water
- Sugar water
- Salt water
- No water
We placed our jars in a sunny spot and left them for 10 days. I thought that would be sufficient time to see the full results. But 10 days later, the trees looked like this:
Yep, exactly the same!
Our evergreen trees were living up to their names. We didn’t want to take MONTHS doing this project, so then we decided to see what WOULD kill the pine branches.
Pine Branch Hardiness Round 2
In this round, I had the kids come up with kitchen liquids that they thought would be bad for the evergreen twigs. They tried to think of the worst liquids for plants. The kids ended up picking:
- Tap water (for a control)
- Vegetable oil
We left our pine branches for another 10 days in a sunny window.
Lo and behold, after 10 days, there WERE differences in the pine branches. But not nearly as many as we thought! The coffee? It was almost as good for the pine branches as the water. The oil caused the branch to shrivel up, but it didn’t turn any other color. The vinegar, though, turned the pine needles brown.
The kids determined that the vinegar and oil were definitely the worst for the pine branches.
What Kids Learn with the Pine Branch Hardiness STEM Experiment
The main thing that my kids learned is that pine trees are not that delicate. We put our branches through so many things that should have been bad for them, but they came through no worse for the wear. After our experiment, the kids and I read a little about pine trees and we read that the only branch officially dying was the vinegar tree. We also learned that pine trees prefer acidic soil, which may be why our tree branch didn’t mind drinking coffee. Some varieties of pine tree are even resistant to salt!
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2 thoughts on “Fun and Fascinating Pine Branch Hardiness STEM Experiment”
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What a fun activity! I found this post while looking for new ideas for my 3rd and 4th grade students when we have our Forest Friday exploration time. I do hope you realize, though, that those are not pine branches in your photos; they appear to be fir. So many people mistakenly use the words “pine,” “evergreen,” and “coniferous” interchangeably, even though pines are just one of many varieties of coniferous tree. When we are helping children understand and appreciate nature, I think it’s important to use the correct terminology, even with our youngest explorers!