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teacher - need advice

Posted by zophra z6 NJ (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 9, 12 at 19:56

I'm a high school Biology teacher and I'm thinking ahead to this coming school year's labs. I'd like to do a lab to show "response to stimuli" for plants (which many students have told me that "they're not alive... they don't move...) (sigh.)I have done this demonstration with my own kids at home where you take a seed and sandwich it between a clear soda bottle and black paper. Fill the bottom of the bottle with water so the paper wicks up the water and ...the seed germinates, roots emerge,etc. all very visible against the black paper. Then... we flip the bottle and the poor seedling exhibits geotrophism - the roots curl around trying to grow toward gravity the stem curls to the new "up" etc.

With this experiment in mind for say 50 lab groups... what are seeds that: 1. are cheap 2. are easy to see 3. have really good germination rates? (We'll put in two just in case.)

I would appreciate any advice.
Thank you very much,

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: teacher - need advice

Hi Tamara,

The National Research Council Canada suggest using beans, peas, radishes, or navy beans for that experiment. See link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Science Experiment

RE: teacher - need advice

I've always found that cucumbers sprout fairly quickly on just damp paper towels. Since you're using black paper as "soil," that might help you out. Make sure the seed is on top of the paper instead of under it--they probably won't break the paper.

Don't buy seed in advance farther than a year or two if you decide to do this year after year--the germination rates go down as they get older. Even if you get an awesome deal on a thousand seeds, they probably won't work past four years or so. You'll have trouble getting even little roots to sprout.

That said, it's also a good idea to give each student two or three seeds for his/her bottle, in case one just doesn't for some reason. That happens too. With two or three per kid, you can be sure that everyone's will sprout.

And... are you seriously telling me that my high school is not the only one whose students are several pies short of a potluck? Heh. What do they mean, plants don't move? Sunflowers do. That's why they're called sunflowers--they move their heads to face the sun at all times. And if they base their definition of "alive" on whether or not it moves, then... well, by that logic, zombies are also alive, as is, say, moving machinery. ... Never mind. *shakes head*

--Rebekah, 15, Iowa

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