You and Your Students!
Vicki Cobb, Education World Science Editor
Grow baby plants from all kinds of supermarket seeds.
Plants, Seeds, Nutrition
Setting the Scene (Background)
Alfalfa and Chinese bean sprouts are not the only baby plants you can find at the supermarket. Prowl up and down the supermarket aisles on a search for seeds and you’ll be surprised at how many you find! I found more than thirty different kinds and tried sprouting them all for fun.
This project takes several days. It’s a great hands-on project for students.
If one of your sources of seeds is a mixture, such as parrot food, read the label to see what kinds of seeds are in the mix. Have students sort and/or categorize the seeds into groups. They should save and label a seed from each group as a reference.
Fold a paper towel in quarters. Moisten it thoroughly with water. It should be soaked through, but not dripping wet. Place the paper towel so it fits in the bottom of a plastic deli container.
Put several seeds on the paper towel. Cover the seeds with another folded and moistened paper towel. Put the lid on the container. Record on a label the source of the seeds and the type of seed, if known. Put the label on the container.
Check your seeds every day. (If the paper towel dries out, moisten it again.) Some seeds will start sprouting sooner than others. Which seeds started sprouting first? The small ones? The large ones? Does whichever seeds sprout first tell you about the amount of water that must be absorbed before a seed will sprout?
By day five, many of my seeds were going strong. Yours should be too. As the seeds sprout, look carefully at them. Use a magnifying glass to get an even better look. The first thing that starts growing is the seed root. As it gets longer, tiny rootlets sprout off the main root. They show up as white fuzz. The seed leaf, called a cotyledon, appears next.
In which direction do the seed roots grow and in which direction do the seed leaves grow? It's awesome how plants know the difference between up and down!
On day five, I turned the dish growing the birdseed upside-down. The results by the next day were amazing!
Did any of your spice seeds sprout? (Mine didn't.) I wonder why. Perhaps spice producers somehow kill the seeds when they process them? What do you think?
Seeds contain the nutrients needed for a baby plant to get started. Those nutrients also make seeds good to eat. Civilization is possible because seeds nutritious; also, they can be stored without spoiling as a hedge against famine.
You might want to connect this activity to your social studies curriculum. Investigate the history of corn, beans, rice, and wheat; whole societies developed around those crops!
See more experiments with seeds in See for Yourself: More than 100 Experiments for Science Fairs and Projects by Vicki Cobb.
Article By Vicki Cobb
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