An explanation of why roots are important to a plant. An ecologist, Dawn, shows a pot plant with restricted room for its roots, which are all knotted together. Dawn explains how roots anchor a plant in the soil and also seek out water to bring up to the stem. She explains how the stem acts like our skeleton and supports the plant.

First broadcast:
8 October 2007

This clip could be used to support students completing an activity labelling the different parts of a plant and exploring the role of each part. Students could explore how roots form by growing broad beans in transparent plastic bottles. This will allow students to observe how the roots spread out to anchor the plant and collect water. If possible students could look at their roots under a microscope and note all the little hairs along its surface for collecting water.

Challenge students to conduct an experiment to explore how the water collected by the roots travels up the stem and into the leaves and flowers to help the plant grow. Students cut the end off the stem of a flower with light-coloured petals and place into a glass of water. A few drops of food colouring could then be put into the water and students could observe what happens. After some time the food colouring will be sucked up the stem with the water and travel to the petals of the flower which will start to change colour. Students could then discuss what they think has happened and use this to develop their understanding of the role of the different parts of the plant. Alternatively, a celery stick could be placed into the glass with food colouring and then cut open to reveal the colour travelling up the stem in tiny tubes called the xylem.