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How are some plants suited to living in the desert?

This week, your task is to learn about how cacti are suited to living in the desert by watching some fun video clips.  Then, you have a cool experiment to help you investigate!


Cacti Simulation Paper Experiment

Have you ever wondered how desert plants live on very little water? Find out about some of their distinctive features with a cacti simulation experiment.

What You'll Need:

  • Paper towels
  • Water
  • Baking tray (or something flat to lay the paper on)
  • Paper clips
  • Waxed paper

Step 1: Wet three paper towels until they are saturated with water but not dripping.

Step 2: Put one of the paper towels flat on a baking tray.

Step 3: Roll up the second paper towel, paper clip it to keep it rolled up, and put it on the baking tray, too.

Step 4: Put the third paper towel on a piece of waxed paper that is the same size. Roll up the waxed paper and the paper towel together, and paper clip them so they stay rolled up.

Step 5: Leave all three paper towels where they are for 24 hours. Then check them.

What did you find out?  

Here's what you'll find:

The flat one will be dry. The rolled one will be dry or mostly dry. But the paper towel that is rolled up with the waxed paper will still be wet.

Now, you may be asking, "What does this have to do with plants in the desert?"

Here's the answer: Cacti and other desert plants are like the paper towel that is rolled up with waxed paper. These plants have waxy coverings that keep moisture from evaporating into the dry desert air. That's part of the reason they can survive on the little water they get in the desert.



Click on these links to watch some great video clips: