Science Project: When Seeds Explode

When Seeds Explode

As a 4th and 5th grade teacher, and a teacher of science, I believe hands-on activities are one of the best ways for students to learn. I recently heard someone say, “Number sense [in math] is not taught, it is caught.” To a certain extent, I believe this because much of what we learn is more through our experiences. I feel that this quote could also be applied to the sciences.
Think about it: Student one reads a book about exploding seeds. Student two decides to watch a YouTube video on exploding seeds. Student three gets some seeds, a pot, potting soil, and other necessary materials to observe these exploding seeds. Student four reads a book, watches a video, and uses materials to observe exploding seeds. I am sure we all know which student will learn the most and have the most fun!
The cool thing about this lesson is that the seeds that are to be used actually do EXPLODE! What student do you know would not find this interesting?
Please enjoy this guest post and some cool math games that are available with this link: www.education.com
Third Grade Science Science Projects: When Seeds Explode

Research Question:

  • What environmental factors trigger the release of seeds from seed pods?
  • How far away to the released seeds travel? Do all seeds travel the same distance?
  • Do seed pods from different plants release them in response to same stimuli?

Plants such as mistletoe, violets, primrose and pansies release their seeds into the air, often with substantial force. In this experiment, students will examine under what conditions individual plants release seeds and how far the seeds are released.

Materials:

  • Camera
  • Two to four different plants that release their seeds in the air. Pansies, wild geraniums, evening primrose and violets are good candidates, but others work well, too.
  • Compass
  • Windvane
  • Graph paper
  • Tongue Depressor
  • Felt

Experimental Procedure

  1. Purchase two to four different plants that shoot seeds into the air. Do some library research to identify when your plants produce seedpods and when the seedpods mature. Learn whether special conditions such bright sunlight, rain, or darkness are necessary.
  2. Set up the wine vane at the same height as the seed pods. If necessary, you can improvise a wind vane by tying a ribbon to a stick and anchoring the stick in the ground. This step is not necessary if you keep your plants indoors.
  3. Cover the area surrounding each plant with felt. Felt is desirable because the seeds will tend to stick more to the felt than they will to paper. How much felt you need depends upon the size of your plants. Be sure to have at least one yard of felt in all directions from the plant. Do not put plants immediately next to each other or you will have difficulties telling their seeds apart. A basement or garage floor may be ideal for this.
  4. Check your plants several times a day and examine their seed pods so that you know when the pods release their seeds. After the pods have released their seeds, make a record of the wind speed, time of day and distance that the seeds traveled. Draw a map, indicating approximate distances. Graph the distances against the number of seeds.
  5. Estimate the trajectory that the seed traveled.
  6. Determine whether there was a relationship between the seed shape and the distance traveled.

Terms/Concepts: Seed dispersal, explosive seed dispersal

References:

  • Marika Hayashi, Kara L. Feilich and David J. Ellerby. “The mechanics of explosive seed dispersal in orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).” Journal of Experimental Botany (2009).
  • Countryside Info: Explosive Seed Dispersal

For more cool activities please click on the following link: Elementary School 

As we continue to learn and grow together, let’s share resources with each other. If you have cool content-based sites for math, science, social studies or ELA, please drop them in the comments. 

Until next time, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

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