Weekly Warm-Up: The Science of a Season

By chensiyuan (chensiyuan) via Wikimedia Commons
Dazzling autumnal foliage blankets the landscape surrounding Hogback Mountain, Vermont.
Photograph by chensiyuan, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-4.0,3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0

When you love fall as much as we do, it sometimes feels like you can blink and miss the colors. And that’s almost true—most trees remain in their vibrant, warm-hued state for only a week before shedding their leaves.

As you watch the environment transform, take the opportunity to learn about the fascinating science behind the season. Our collection of ideas is perfect to help you seize the (teachable) moment!

One great idea is to create a fall foliage chart. Encourage your students to keep a log of the colors they see every week and make note of how they change. Use simple graph paper to chart the colorful change. Compare your class results with the interactive Fall Foliage Prediction Map from the good folks at SmokyMountains.com.

Ask your students to guess the reason trees lose their leaves. Did they know that it’s a method of self-defense against the coming winter cold? Can they guess what happens to leaves after they fall?

The other harbingers of fall are the gradually shortening day and the seemingly sudden drop in temperatures. Why are these things happening? Use our illustrations to walk your students through the astronomical and climatological forces at work.


Nat Geo: Seasons illustrations

Nat Geo: Why Do Fall Leaves Change Color?

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