What's Going On?

Wet, and not so wet, leaves

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 7 – 9

Science topics:


Spark a conversation with this video showing water falling on different types of leaves from different habitats and regions around the world. This activity is great for describing observations and applying ideas in unfamiliar contexts.

Run the activity

1. You’re going to watch a short video. The aim isn't to find right answers, it's to explore ideas and find out what they know.

  • Do they know what might happen based on the image?

2. After you've watched the video, lead a discussion with your class:

  • What do the class notice about the plants in the video?
  • How are these plants different from other plants they know about?
  • Can they describe the surface of the leaves in the video?
  • What are the benefits of being able to repel water?

3. Ask the class to describe what they saw using only one word.

Background science

The leaves of the lotus plant are ultrahydrophobic, which means they can repel water droplets. The plant uses this as a cleaning mechanism, the water picking up dirt and matter as it sloshes around and off the leaf.

Other leaves in the video are designed to ensure water moves swiftly off them by means of a groove in the centre. Pine leaves are very small and narrow to avoid snow build up.

Take it further

Take the class outside and see what different leaf shapes you can find, you can even use this handy leaf ID guide from the Woodland Trust. The Eden Project has more on learning with leaves too! Fancy another interesting plant activity - check out this What's Going On? activity about a plant with sensitive leaves.