parts of a seed diagram, endosperm, embryo, seed coat

Science Experiment : Amazing Seeds

Science Experiments with Seeds

In the summer we have been having fun planting a little garden, and experimenting with raised flower beds and composting. Well, it’s the middle of winter where we live right now but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun with plants! I wanted to share some of the plant activities we have been doing and learning about. In this blog I cover the seed germination process, and I plan to elaborate more on how plants grow as well as some more fun activities on later blog posts that I will leave links to.

What is a Seed?

A seed is the embyronic stage of the plant life cycle. Seeds lay dormant until the necessary conditions to grow are provided. Some examples are warmth, water, adequate soil, and sunlight. This is called germination.


Parts of a Seed

Seeds generally consist of the embryo, the endosperm and the seed coat. The seed coat protects the internal parts of the seed. The endosperm provides nutrients to the embryo, such as starch, oil, and protein. The embryo contains all information and cells required to grow into a mature plant. It consist of the primary roots, cotyledons, and embryonic leaves.

Seeds We Eat and Seed Dispersal

Some examples of common seeds that we eat include peanuts, beans, peas, almonds, coffee beans, rice, corn, nutmeg, and mustard. Seeds come in many shapes and sizes, and have different ways of dispersing. Some seeds have little hairs that help them to fly in the wind (dandelion.) Some have wings (maple tree helicopters. Others have hooks and barbs that attach to an animals fur and are then dispersed, while others are eaten by animals and then dispersed that way. There are some animals that will even dig a hole and plant a seed – squirrels for example.

Seed Experiment 1: Do Seeds Need Water?

Our first activity shows how adding water to seeds is necessary to start activating the germination process.

Experiment Supplies and Instructions

1.)    Get two small containers ( individual yogourt containers, little bowls, shot glasses etc.)

2.)    Put some cotton balls in each container, and sprinkle some seeds on top (no need to cover.) We used some lettuce seeds I had left over from the summer, but feel free to experiment with various little seeds – maybe some of those fluffy dandelion seeds out in the yard if your doing this experiment while they are blooming.

3.)    Add water to thoroughly dampen the cotton balls in one container, and leave the other container dry. (I put some cling wrap on top of the wet container so I didn’t have to worry about it drying out.)

4.)    Place the two containers on a sunny window sill.

5.)     Have your little one make a hypothesis as to which one will grow better, and check on them daily to see how they are doing. Ours took about 5 days before we noticed a sudden difference.

Points of Discussion

Why did the one container grow and why did the other not? Why is water important to a seed? Water is like an activator for a seed. When the seed has condition suitable for life, such as water and warmth, it wakes up the seed. Biochemical processes start as the seed absorbs water. Then it starts dividing into more and more cells until the growing plant begins to emerge out of the seed coat.

Experiment 2: Seeds in a Bag – What do Seeds Need to Germinate?

Our next experiment shows us the parts of a seedling, and also reiterates the need for water and warmth in germination. I remember doing this one a few times as a kid and have always enjoyed watching the little seedlings grow.

Experiment Supplies and Instructions

For this experiment you will need a ziplock baggie, a couple of paper towels and some water. A little bit of tape and some cardboard are also handy.

1.)    Fold two paper towels and place them in a sandwich bag.

2.)    Pour enough water in to dampen the paper towels and dump out any extra.

3.)    Place some bean seeds in between the paper towels in your baggie. ( You can use any type of dried bean. We also used peas, and some other random seeds that we had to compare.)

4.)    Seal the baggie and then tape it to a piece of cardboard and prop it up on a sunny windowsill or just tape it straight to the window. (We taped ours straight to the window and I was a little worried they may not get warm enough since it was in the teens outside but they still sprouted- maybe because we had them close to our heat vents on the floor?) (You could also experiment with placing in different areas of the house, or North vs South windows, etc.)

5.)    Leave the baggie for 5 days to a week and see what happens.

Points of Discussion

Your seeds (bean, peas etc.) should have started to sprout into baby plants called seedlings. Beans and peas are nice to use in this experiment because you can see everything a little better than the little seeds used in the cotton ball experiment. Beans are also nice in how they are easy to cut in half if you want to remove the seeds at various points in germination and dissect your seeds to see the differences. I point out to my girls that if they want the seedlings to keep growing that they are going to need to be planted in soil so they can get proper nutrients to continue to grow- just like we need good nutrients for our bodies to grow.

I’ll make another post here soon about growing our seedlings and growing microgreens inside our home. Have fun with your little learners!

More Science Experiments:

DIY Playdough and The Science Behind It

The Three States of Matter

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