Have you ever opened a seed to see what’s inside? Watch this video and learn how a seed can sprout with just sunlight and water.
What you need: Beans or squash seeds (large beans work best to open and look inside), Cup with clear sides, Paper towel, Water
What you do:
- Drop several beans into a cup of room temperature water. Soaking them will make them easier to open. Within 5-10 minutes, you’ll notice the seed coat will start to get wrinkly. If you watch very carefully right by the “scar” on the bean, you might be able to see tiny air bubbles escaping.
- The next day, pick just one of the beans to open and examine. Pull off the seed coat and gently separate the two halves. The two big pieces are the food source for the growing baby plant. Discard the pieces when you’re done - the seed won’t sprout now.
- To sprout your seeds, take a clear drinking glass or canning jar and line the inside with a paper towel. Pour about an inch of water into the bottom of the glass and gently swirl so the paper towel soaks up the water. The water will stick the paper towel to the side of the glass. Keep adding more water a little bit at a time, until the entire paper towel is wet and there’s about an inch of water left at the bottom of the jar. Place your seeds between the paper towel and the jar, so the paper towel holds the seed in place.
- Place the seeds in a sunny spot, and keep adding water as needed. Your seeds should start growing within a week. Once your plants get big, you can transfer them to a pot or outside garden.
Questions to explore:
- Plants need water and sun to grow. What do you need to grow?
- We can see plants growing up above the ground, but they also grow down into the ground. Can you see the roots of your plant?
- We sprouted squash in this activity. If you could grow any kind of plant in the world, what you would grow?
Why it works (or Other Variations to try)
When you sprout your seeds, you might notice that no matter how place the seed in the glass, the roots will always grow down and the leaves will always grow up. The plant can sense which way is up and which way is down! Here’s a fun way to test this out.
Start by sprouting a seed just as we did above, and let it grow until both the roots and the leaves are least an inch long (so you can clearly see which direction they’re growing). Then try and trick the plant by turning it upside down! (If you don’t have a jar with a lid to allow you to do this, try turning the jar on its side.) Keep watering and watching your seed, and in about a week you’ll see that the leaves and roots will start growing in the other direction. Wow!