Are your Valentine’s Day flowers starting to wilt? Mine were. So I decided I would remove the petals from the roses and put them in a mason jar, but first they would need to air out, right? Concealed moisture would just cause them to mold, right? After poking around on the internet I found a resource that suggested microwaving the petals. Coincidentally, we do have a microwave at Visit Topeka. So with my trusty sidekick Rosemary egging me on, we marched into the kitchen to microwave the rose petals and it dawned on me, this is science! Although, Science and Tech Fest is still eight months away, it’s never too early to start thinking like a scientist. So whether you want to preserve your gorgeous bouquet or expose your kids to the scientific method, try microwaving flower petals. This experiment is a great way to engage scientific thinking, even if you can’t answer all of the questions (that’s where Google comes into play).

Here is what the rose petals looked like before…

petals

And after…

petals after

Left: Total time 1 min, 2 30 second increments

Center: 1 consecutive minute

Right: 2 consecutive minutes

Here are some thoughts I had:

  • What is the optimal time to microwave rose petals?
  • Should you microwave the petals in increments or consecutively?
  • Do petals change the longer they are in the microwave?  
  • Will they catch on fire?
  • Will the air from the microwave cause the petals to blow around?

Here is what I found

  • 2 minutes seemed to be the optimal time to dry the petals, they were dry but not burned
  • Consecutive time seemed to work just fine
  • The longer the petals are in the microwave, the more they dehydrate. The color turned from pink to purple. The petals lost their smell after dehydrating. Ever wondered why your food gets hard in the microwave? If you’re curious to learn more about how microwaves work, check out this website: http://bit.ly/2lhLRhd.
  • At two consecutive minutes the petals did not catch on fire, but this could vary from microwave to microwave depending on wattage. (And perhaps potentially flammable pesticides used on the flowers? Not an experiment I’m willing to take on in the office kitchen…)
  • Strangely, the microwave air only blew the petals around when I folded the paper towel “hot-dog” style versus “hamburger” style … or vertically versus horizontally. This is a good time to think about controls during a science experiment. http://bit.ly/2msSBc2

These questions all turned my simple Pinterest-y type craft into a science experiment. If you think about it, science is all around us – and it can even be fun. So as the days leading up to Science and Tech Fest dwindle down, keep thinking like a scientist!