Autumn is my favorite time of year. So much so that I wanted to name my younger daughter Autumn (vetoed by her mother). The crisp air, the smells of apple harvest, the colors of spawning brook trout, and the colors of leaves are just a few things that I enjoy about fall. All that to say, it’s time for my annual posting of resources for teaching and learning about the transition from summer into fall.
2020 Fall Foliage Prediction Map is a feature of the SmokyMountains.com website. The map displays a week-by-week prediction of when leaves in the continental United States will be changing colors from now through the end of November. You can see the predictions change by moving the timeline at the bottom of the map.
The Fall Foliage Prediction Map doesn’t tell the whole story of why leaves change colors at different times in different parts of the country. I’d use the incomplete nature of the map’s explanation as a jumping-off point for students to hypothesize and investigate why leaves change colors at different times in different parts of the country. I might also have them investigate why some trees have brighter leaves than others in the fall.
Reactions is a great YouTube channel from the American Chemical Society. I’ve featured a handful or more of their videos over the years. This video from Reactions explains how chlorophyll and the glucose stored inside trees create the red, yellow, and brown of fall foliage.
For an explanation of why leaves change colors that elementary school students can understand, watch the following SciShow Kids video.
Science Filmmaking Tips (previously known as Untamed Science) offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.