Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Simple Seed Germination Experiment

This experiment is Growth 1 from the EnergyWorks Student Guide created by the NEED Project. We are doing it at home as a family, so that each of my daughters gets a chance to participate. However, in order to set up an experiment like this with many children (in the classroom or at home), you have to proceed in an organized fashion or you'll lose your mind!!

Here's how we did it. You need enough seeds for each child to have about 18. You also will probably want to make the stickers in advance (print on address labels if you have a classroom or write by hand if you are homeschooling). If you have an older child, have them make the stickers.

Step 1: Have one child divide the pea or bean seeds by taking little bowls (one for each person doing the experiment -- in our case, it was three) and setting them on the table. Then open the packet and dump it into a pile on the table. Continue by moving three (or however many bowls you have) seeds at a time out of the large pile and placing one in each dish - 1, 2, 3. Repeat until all the seeds are used up. This is called "sharing out" and is an early kind of division.

Step 2: Pass out the sandwich sized Ziploc bags -- 6 for each person. Have each child count their bags to be sure they have six.

Step 3: Pass out the paper towels -- 6 for each person. Demonstrate how to fold the paper towel in half and then in half again so that it forms a square. Let the children fold each paper towel and place one in each of their Ziploc bags. This may take longer than you expect but let them do it on their own.

Step 4: Have the children lay out their 6 bags in front of them and "share out" the seeds on their bowl by placing them under each bag, one at a time, until the seeds are used up. It does not matter how many seeds are in each, as long as there's at least one. Three per bag is preferable and gives you the best chances for germination.

Step 5: Working with one bag at a time, have the children carefully slide their beans into the bag on top of the paper towel.

Step 6: Read the Purpose of the experiment. Read the Materials. Read the Procedure and have each child make a Hypothesis.

Step 7: Have each child write his/her initials on each of the 6 bags that belong to them with a Sharpie. Place a sticker on each bag -- 6 total stickers, which have the following labels:

No Light
1 Hour
2 Hours
3 Hours
4 Hours
All Day

Step 8: Give each child a copy of the Growth 1 Data Sheet or make your own page in a Science Journal (one column for each baggie with space below it to record the day on which the seeds first germinated). Keep a blank copy of the Growth 1 sheet on the fridge. I find it is easiest to make this the Master and to record on it what time of day each baggie will go back into darkness. We are keeping all our baggies (except the All Day bag) in a bucket under the kitchen sink. At 7 am we get out all the baggies from the bucket (except the No Light bag) and place them on the kitchen table. At 8 am we put the 1 hour bag back in the bucket under the sink. At 9 am we put back the 2 hour bag. At 10 am we put back the 3 hour bag. At 11 am we put back the 4 hour bag. These times are written on the Master posted on the fridge. A timer set for one hour is also helpful.

Step 9: Pour a little water (and Plant Food- optional) into each bag so that the paper towel is wet but there is no standing water. Let the children zip each bag shut. Have them place the All Day bag on the windowsill in a room that gets plenty of sunlight.

Step 10: Using the schedule posted on the fridge, give each baggie the required amount of sunlight and observe what happens to your seeds!

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