Farmers and gardeners have had to exercise patience while waiting to sow their seeds in our Minnesota soil this spring! Once they are planted, these seeds mysteriously transform into sprouts of green emerging from the ground. The Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom’s Plant Pal activity can provide a glimpse into the miraculous changes that a seed goes through from sowing to sprouting. Additionally, students and parents will create an exciting accessory that compliments any outfit!
- Soybeans seeds and corn kernels (these can be obtained from local farmers or purchased at a garden center)
- Jeweler size plastic bags (these can be purchased from craft stores, online or might even be free from a jewelry store)
- Cotton balls
- Hole punch
- Yarn or string
• Planting pots
- Punch a hole in the top of a small jeweler sized plastic bag.
- Dip a cotton ball in water. Give the cotton ball three “flat” squeezes to remove excess water.
- Place the cotton ball inside the plastic bag.
- Place two seeds (2 soybean seeds, 2 corn seeds, or 1 corn and 1 soybean seed), one on each side, in contact with the dampened cotton ball.
- Tie a string or piece of yarn through the hole punched in the top of the plastic bag. Wear the string and bag like a necklace.
DO NOT close or seal the plastic bag – the seed needs air to sprout!
The seeds should soon swell up from the moisture and germination (sprouting) should take place in about three days.
- Once one of the seeds has germinated, remove the other seed. There is only enough room and moisture to support the growth of one seed.
- The seed can be transplanted into soil by cutting off the bottom of the bag, pulling out the germinated seed (cotton ball and all), and transplanting to a container with soil.
- Why are these seeds important to us? (They grow into plants that produce corn and soybeans for animals and for us to eat)
- What do Minnesota farmers have to do in order to get the seed to grow into the plant that provides animals and humans food?
Water – from rain or irrigation
Air – plants need to breathe in order to grow
Light – the bright summer sun provides solar energy for the plant
Soil – once the plant is growing it needs nutrients (minerals, vitamins from the soil)
- Record your prediction about what will happen with your Plant Pal. Record (with drawings and written descriptions) what occurs with your Plant Pal in a daily journal to see if your predictions come true.
- Design a scientific experiment with the germinating conditions. Compare environmental factors such as wearing the necklace inside the shirt or outside the shirt; squeezing the cotton ball once versus three times, two seeds versus one, etc.
- Once the germinated seeds are transplanted to soil, take daily measurements and create a graph of plant growth.
For a complete Plant Pal lesson plan and background information click here .
For further information about the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom program visit www.mda.state.mn.us/maitc or contact Al Withers, Program Director at email@example.com or Sue Knott, Education Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.