Science of Autumn Leaves

Science of Autumn Leaves

Crisp fall days are a great time for outdoor hands-on science! Using fall-harvested crops and the natural phenomena of autumn as inspiration, families can explore everything from weather prediction to animal tracks. These engaging outdoor science projects can be enjoyed by scientists of all ages, and require few materials – the learning inspired by each project will come naturally thanks to participants’ curiosity and ability to observe! Learn what color leaves different trees produce in the autumn and learn to read your landscape.

As foliage begins to shed its summer green, explorations of leaves and trees become especially engaging. Using leaves found on trees right in a backyard, families can practice leaf and tree identification. Plan a tree ID matching game by collecting leaves of various shapes, sizes, and colors from nearby trees, then have scientists work to match each leaf to its tree of origin. Older participants can practice specific species identification by using field guides to identify each species that they’ve matched leaves to. Further leaf learning can take place by watching leaves breath in a bowl of water – after patiently waiting for a few hours, close observation will reveal air bubbles of the same sort that are released from human mouths while under water!

Autumn’s rich and brilliant colors have inspired artists and writers to revere the fall landscape, capturing its spirit through art, poetry and prose.  The dazzling, red, orange, and yellow hues are breathtaking and instantaneous; fall foliage peak season truly only lasts a few days, so be sure to check when it’s predicted to peak with this handy online map at

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