three students sitting at a table with colored fluid and celery stalks in cups on the table in front of themDo you know the difference between xylem and phloem? Meghann Ruleman's fifth-graders at Swans Creek Elementary School do! Her students got excited about science and learned about plant life by playing games and doing experiments that helped them understand the biology behind roots, stems, leaves, and flowers.

The students played a form of the game Simon Says in class to review the parts of a plant, to learn about the difference between vascular and nonvascular plants, and to demonstrate how xylem, a type of vascular tissue in plants, works. By reaching down to their feet and then standing up to make an X with their bodies, they depicted xylem travelling from a plant's roots to its leaves bringing water. For phloem, the other vascular transport system, the students demonstrated how food flows down from a plant's leaves above to the rest of the plant by bringing their hands above their heads and dropping them down to their feet.

Building off these activities, the class conducted an experiment to find out which color food dye absorbed best through the xylem in the celery, making observations over several days. 

"On the last day, we pulled apart the celery and you could see the xylem tubes were completely the color of the food dye. The students really got that the xylem is a tube by seeing how it pulled the water up and being able to see the tube filled with colored food dye," said Ruleman. "Then, we finished by eating some fresh celery so they could again see the xylem tubes as they were eating it."