Seed Germination Experiment
Today is the fourth science session of our virtual summer camp. If you missed the introduction I recommend you go back and read it as it includes some general tips for all our science sessions.
Today we are going to start an experiment that will take a few days. It requires a little patience, but is fascinating for children to monitor and observe. All you will need is an empty jam jar, some paper towels, and some pea or bean seeds. We used peas. You try it with other seeds too, but peas and beans work well for this as they germinate fairly quickly.
If you want to record your experiment, you can also download a copy of my free ‘Seed Journal’ sheet and either print it off or, if you don’t have a printer, use it as a template to create your own. Depending on age, kids can either write and/ or draw their observations.
Step 1: Fold a couple of paper towels and line your empty jar with it.
Step 2: Take some more paper towels, crumple them up, and push them in to the middle of the jar. You want to fill the jar fairly firmly, so that it pushes against the paper around the side of the jar.
Step 3: Take a seed and carefully push it between the side of the jar and the paper. We put four seeds, spaced around the outside of the jar, just in case one of them didn’t work.
Step 4: Wet the paper towels until they are just moist, you don’t want them to be dripping in water. We used a spray bottle, which worked really well. If there is water pooling at the bottom of the jar you’ve added too much – carefully tip the jar over and let the excess water run out.
And that’s it, your germination jar is set up. Now you need to wait. Check your jar every day, and use the Seed Journal to record any changes. Don’t let the paper dry and the seeds dry out – we sprayed on some more water every couple of days.
This was our progress:
This is a great experiment for kids to see how seeds grow below the ground. They were also fascinated to see the seeds sprouting with just the paper in the jar, having learned at school that plants need water, air, light, soil/ nutrients to grow. We explained to them that the seeds contain all the nutrients they need to get started, a bit like a packed lunch.
You could try some variations on this experiments. Use more than one jar, and put different seeds on each. Compare how quickly they germinate and grow. Or have two jars with the same seeds and put one somewhere light, like a window sill, and one somewhere dark e.g. in a cupboard. Compare how they do. How about somewhere hot and somewhere cold?
Once your seeds have germinated, you could plant them out. You don’t need a garden for this – we planted our peas in a pot of soil in our stairwell. We didn’t get a super abundance of peas, but we did grow about dozen peas to harvest. And the kids got to watch their plant develop for a little while longer.
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