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The leaves are falling from the trees and the air is getting chilly where Jessi and Squeaks live, which can only mean one thing: it's fall! And to celebrate the season, they've put together a bunch of videos about all the fun things you can see, learn about, and even eat in the fall!

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Well, Squeaks, the leaves are changing, there's a chill in the air, it sure looks like fall out there, which means summer is pretty much over.  Oh, buddy, don't look so sad.  Summer is fun, but fall is pretty amazing, too.  There's so much to see and do and learn about, like you know how I mentioned all the leaves were changing those cool colors?  Well, do you remember why they do that?  Let's watch this to refresh our memories.

Hi guys! What's it like this time of year outside where you live? In our part of the world, the days are getting shorter, and the weather's getting cooler, and some of the leaves on the trees are starting to change colors.

This might be happening where you live too, or it might be happening pretty soon. That's because we're heading into one of the most colorful times of the year: autumn.

Nothing says autumn or fall like lots of brightly colored leaves to rake and jump into or just to pick up and admire.

Now, some trees like pine trees, spruces, and firs stay green all autumn and winter. But for many of the trees that have leaves instead of pointy needles, this time of year means their leaves will turn different shades of red, orange, and yellow. And eventually drop to the ground.

Have you every wondered why this happens? To find out, let's take a close look at a green leaf.

Leaves on most plants and trees are green because of a colorful chemical inside them called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is bright green, but it does more than just look pretty. It has a special job because it's able to capture the energy that's in sunlight.

Leaves use this light energy to make sugars, which the tree can then use for its own energy. So, chlorophyll is what plants use to make their own food from sunlight.

But chlorophyll isn't the only thing in tree leaves that gives them color. Leaves have lots of other colorful chemicals called pigments inside them that are red, yellow, orange, and even purple.

If you've eaten carrots, cabbage, or cherries, then you've not only seen these pigments, you've had them for lunch. All these colorful pigments have special jobs, but only chlorophyll helps a plant make the sugar that it needs to live.

And since chlorophyll's job is so important, there's WAY more of it in green leaves than any of the other pigments. In fact, there's so much chlorophyll that it's green color covers up all the other colors.

So through spring and summer, we don't see the red, orange, and yellow pigments in the leaves. We just see the green chlorophyll.

But as the summer starts to turn into fall and the days get shorter, less and less sunlight hits the tree's leaves, so the tree starts to make less and less chlorophyll. Then the leaves become less green, and we're able to see more of the other colors that were there all along.

And when that starts to happen, you might want to take the time to enjoy these pretty leaves while you can because not long after they turn color, they begin to fall.

They fall because without their chlorophyll to help them make energy, the leaves don't really have a job to do. So as winter approaches, the energy that the leaves have made flows into the tree and gets stashed away.

Then, when the time is just right, they break off from the branches and fall to the ground. The tree can then live through the winter, using the energy it saved up until the days start to get longer and warmer.

Then it grows new leaves to capture the sunlight, and the cycle starts all over again.

So when you start to see yellow, orange, and red leaves showing up where you live, remember, those colors were there all along. Autumn is just their time to shine.

Well, the trees and other plants all over our neighborhood are changing color and losing their leaves, lots of the animals that live around here are making their own changes to get ready for the coming winter.  Some birds, like our pal Dino, are getting ready to fly somewhere warmer, but other animals, like squirrels, are preparing to sleep through most of the coldest parts of winter, and one way they prepare is by storing lots of food for when they wake up.

Hi everyone! What is it, Squeaks? You didn't say anything? Huh, I wonder what it is? Let's look at the Yard Cam. Oh, look! There's a squirrel digging in the yard. You know, she reminds me a lot of our friend, Ruffles the squirrel, and she sounds a little like you, Squeaks! Aw, I miss Ruffles too, buddy.

Ruffles is Squeaks' pen pal. She's an eastern gray squirrel who lives far away in Chicago, so they keep in touch by writing letters to each other. But, we haven't heard from her in a while, because it's been winter; and, when it's very cold, squirrels spend a lot of their time sleeping. The squirrel in our yard probably spent most of the last few months sleeping, too! That's because it's harder for squirrels to find food during the winter.

They eat lots of different things! Some of their meals come from plants, like nuts and fruits, and they'll also eat small animals like insects. But, there aren't many nuts or fruits around in the winter, and insects spend most of it in a type of deep sleep; so, there aren't a lot of them around, either. Since there's so little food for them to eat in the winter, squirrels save as much energy as they can by sleeping most of the time. They might only wake up once every few days!

They also spend a lot of time preparing for the winter by storing away some food beforehand. And, guess where they hide it! That's right: in the ground. It's like they create their own personal kitchen cabinets underground. That's probably why the squirrel in our yard was digging. She was looking for the extra food she buried before the winter started, maybe some delicious acorns.

It's not so easy for squirrels to remember where they put all their food, so they have a few tricks to help them know where to look. One trick is to dig it up every few days. That way, they can remind themselves where it is, and at the same time, they can check on it to make sure it's not spoiled. Their nose helps too! They can smell where there might be food buried underground, which helps them remember where they put it. Sometimes, they'll also sniff out food buried by other squirrels; they might even take some!

By slowly eating the food they've stored away, they're able to make it through the long, cold winter. They do sometimes forget where they've put some of their food. If a squirrel buries an acorn and doesn't dig it up again, it might start to grow into the type of tree that makes acorns: an oak tree. Eventually, oak trees can grow huge! A full-grown oak tree is about 25 meters or 82 feet. That's as tall as a building with eight floors! All from a tiny little acorn one squirrel buried and forgot about.

But, now that it's almost spring, squirrels will soon be able to find lots of food again. Nuts and fruits will start growing on trees, and there will be more insects and other small animals around, too. Then, they won't have to spend so much of their time sleeping to save energy anymore. So, if Ruffles isn't awake yet, I bet she will be soon! How about we write her a letting to say good morning? Okay! I'll get the pencils and paper. Oh, good idea! I'll get some crayons, too. We can draw her lots of pictures of what we've been up to this winter.

One of my favorite things about the fall is all of the yummy vegetables and gourds that are being harvested.  I love squash soup and buttery mashed potatoes, mmm.  Oh yeah, Squeaks' favorite fall squash isn't just one you can eat, but that you can also carve into a decoration.  Can you guess what it is?  That's right, pumpkins.

It's fall and that means harvest season. Lots of the fruit that has been growing around us are ready to be picked, harvested, and eaten, including pumpkins. They're one of my favorite fall-time fruits, and they're more than just delicious. They're also really fun to carve into Jack-o-Lanterns.

Yep, pumpkins are a fruit. Even though they're really hard on the outside and they aren't very sweet. A fruit is the part of a plant that protects the plant's seeds and then helps spread the seeds around once they're ready to grow into new plants. Yeah, I want to see those seeds, too, and you know when scientists want to learn more about something, a lot of the time, they'll open it up to investigate. That's called dissecting, and we can do it, too. Let's open up this pumpkin and find out what's inside.

To dissect a pumpkin, you'll need a grown up helper, a pumpkin carving tool or knife, a spoon, and a bowl to put the insides in. Oh, and of course, you'll need a pumpkin. Before we cut it open, let's see what we can learn by examining the outside of the pumpkin. On top, there's the stem, which was part of the vine that connects the pumpkin fruit to the rest of the pumpkin plant and carries nutrients to the pumpkin fruit.

What else do you notice about the outside of the pumpkin? Yeah, it is big. People all over the world actually have competitions to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin, and they can get really huge. Can you imagine trying to lift something like that? The farmers have to use special machines to move their giant pumpkins. This one's a little more normal sized, although it's still pretty heavy.

The outside of the pumpkin is also really hard. If you knock on it with your fist, it's kind of like knocking on a door. That hard skin is called the rind and these lines on the side are called ribs. The tough rind works kind of like a suit of armor, protecting the seeds from the outside world. That's right, Squeaks, it's about time we cut this thing open. Let's see what's inside.

First, we're going to cut a big hole in the rind, right around the vine. You should probably get a grown-up to help you with this part, because it can be pretty tough. Once you have the circle, you can use the vine to pull off the top like this. Ooh, check it out, guys! The inside of the pumpkin looks so different from the outside. It's full of seeds. We can pull them out using our hands or hahaha, we can get a spoon to get a closer look.

See how all these seeds are attached by these long gooey strings? They're called fibrous strands and each one connects to a seed. While the pumpkin fruit is still growing on the vine, the strands connect the seeds to the vine so that all kinds of nutrients and plant food can travel through the strands and get to the growing seeds. Then, once the seeds are fully grown, they can just pop off of the fibrous strands. After that, they're ready to grow into new pumpkin plants. All they need is a nice patch of soil, but they're still inside the pumpkin fruit.

How are the seeds going to get planted if they're still stuck inside this hard rind? Well, think about what you do with other fruits. That's right, you eat them! Lots of fruits have tasty bits that convince animals to come and eat their seeds. Once the animals eat the seeds, they move somewhere else, and eventually, they poop. That leaves some seeds on the ground ready to grow into new plants, and since the seeds are in a different place now, that means they aren't growing right next to the older, bigger pumpkin plants, where they might not get enough sunlight, water, or soil.

You're right. There is a lot left in this pumpkin, even though we've taken out the seeds and the fibrous strands. The thick section between the rind and the cavity is called the pulp, and it's the tasty part of the pumpkin. When a pumpkin fruit is ripe, the rind gets a bit softer and animals like deer, moles, squirrel, and mice can get through it to the delicious pulp and the seeds.

Even though other animals eat pumpkin pulp raw, lots of people prefer to cook it or make it into pies, muffins, pancakes, and all sorts of yummy treats. The seeds are also really tasty, but I'm going to make sure to plant some of them to become next year's pumpkin plants.

Hey, Squeaks, when you think about the fall, what animal pops into your head first?  Turkeys, me too!  Here in the United States, we have a holiday called Thanksgiving in the fall, and for a lot of people, turkeys are a big part of that.  Ooh, I have a fun idea, Squeaks.  Let's trace our hands and make them into turkeys while we check out the last time we talked about turkeys.

There are lots of great fall decorations out in our neighborhood, and one of the most common ones Squeaks and I see are turkeys. You might know that turkeys are connected with Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada, and people sometimes raise them on their farms, but did you know that there are also wild turkeys and they're pretty cool birds. There are lots of other fun things to know about turkeys, too, from the sounds they make to how they eat to the little flaps of skin on their beaks.

You might already know one of the sounds a turkey makes. On the count of three, let's all try to make that sound. Ready, one, two, three: gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble. Did you make a sound like this? Yes, turkeys say something that sounds like gobble gobble, but not all of them. Only the toms, the male turkeys, make that famous gobbling sound, and they only make it some of the time. Both tom turkeys and female turkeys, called hens, can make other sounds, too, like this (chirping sound) and this (pecking sound). So if you ever hear a turkey make that gobble gobble sound, you know it's a tom turkey.

And I'm going to let you in on another secret about how to tell the toms and hens apart. Look at their poop. Yes, their poop. If a pile of turkey poop looks like a spiral, it came from a hen. If it looks more like the letter 'J' or a question mark, then it came from a tom turkey. One thing that's the same about tom and hen turkeys is what they eat.

Adult turkeys munch on things like berries and seeds and even sometimes small animals like salamanders, but like all birds, turkeys don't have teeth, so they can't chew up their food the way we do. Instead, they have another body part that kind of does the same thing. It's called a gizzard and it's a really important body part for turkeys and other birds. The gizzard is a small pouch that has a lot of muscle, and if we could see inside of the turkey's body, we can see that the gizzard is right here. A turkey's gizzard is full of tiny stones and pieces of other hard things like gravel. The turkey picks up these hard pieces from the ground and swallows them, and they stay in the gizzard. If a human tried to swallow a stone, it would be dangerous, but for a turkey, the stones in its gizzard act like teeth. When food gets into the gizzard, the muscles of the gizzard squeeze it, mixing the food with the stones inside. This mashes the food up and grinds it into smaller pieces. Then, the turkey can use it for energy.

The gizzard is just one of the neat body parts that a turkey has and like the word 'gizzard', they're also pretty fun to say. Turkeys have two special body parts on their head. The flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak is called a 'snood', and the skin around the turkey's neck is called its 'waddle'. Bird experts can tell a lot about how a turkey is feeling by looking at its snood and its waddle. The snood and waddle are normally kind of pink or red in color, but if the turkey's not feeling well, its snood and waddle get lighter in color and if the turkey is scared, they can even turn blue.

Okay, time for one more turkey fact. You might have heard that turkeys are not very smart. Well, that's not true. Turkeys can be just as smart as other animals. They can learn to get along with people and other animals and they can even learn from each other.

Alright, Squeaks, check out my handprint turkey.  Now, let's check out yours.  Hah, I love it.  Great job, Squeaks.  So Squeaks, are you still sad that summer is over and fall is here?  Yeah, fall is fun.  Now, let's get you a cozy sweater, head outside, and find some pretty leaves to decorate the Fort.  

What's your favorite fall activity?  We'd love to hear about it.  Ask a grown-up to help you leave a comment below or send us your questions through our website at  Thanks, and we'll see you next time here at the Fort.