Water transportation in plants

Lesson plan

KS 2 Science (year 3)
Scottish first level Science (Planet Earth)
Northern Ireland Interdependence

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Key stage(s): KS1, KS2
  • Subject(s): Science

Learning objectives

  • Look at how water is transported within plants
  • Discover the function of different parts of a plant
  • Choose a type of scientific enquiry to use
  • Collect data from own observations

Key vocabulary

Flower, stem, stalk, leaves, roots, transportation, vessels, xylem, evaporation


Plants need water to grow.

What happens if we don't give our plants water? Observe potted plants and cut plants, give water to some, but not others. Record the results during a week.


Drop a folded paper flower into water. Observe what happens. The flower should open as water moves through the fibres of the paper (capillary action).
Another good starter for looking at capillary action is the 'Walking water' activity.

  1. Place a white carnation flower in a clear container of coloured water (use water-based food colouring). Observe what happens. You could do this with a series of photographs.           
  2. Try the same activity with leafy celery stalks.
  3. Using cut leafy stems and recycled small water bottles, can learners devise an experiment to measure how much water is taken up by the stem, in an agreed time period? What method will learners choose to conduct this scientific enquiry? What success indicators will they be looking for? How will they measure and record their results? 


Cut horizontally through a celery stem and observe the water transportation vessels called xylem. Use a magnifier to look closer.

Essential background information

The movement of water in plants is driven by a process called transpiration. This is where water evaporating from the leaves of a plant causes the plant to draw up more water from the roots. Water moves up the stem by capillary action - this is where water molecules seemingly 'stick' together.


Stems of white carnation flowers, celery stalks (with leaves), cut leafy stems
Water based food colouring
Clear plastic containers
Paper flowers (Capillary Flowers)

Differentiation - for deeper thinkers

Identify the factors that have an effect on plants taking up water.

Think about:
Temperature and location, amount of leaves

Assessment questions

  • Name the functions of plant parts (water transportation, reproduction, nutrition)
  • Match parts of a plant with function
  • Do some parts have more than one function?

We've won awards!

Winner of the Drum Marketing Awards 2017
Winner of the ERA 2017 awards
Winner of the Third Sector 2017 awards