Share it! Science

Saturday, March 24, 2018

DIY Seed Germination Jar: A Must-Have for Your Plant Unit!

Seed germination is one of nature's little wonders. Giving your kids and students the opportunity to grow a plant of their own can be a magical experience. Unfortunately, we most often stick the seeds in some soil where we cannot see what happens as the seed becomes a tiny sprout. You can easily solve this problem by building a germination jar so that kids can see the entire process in action!

Building the germination jar is easy, and it is the perfect addition to your plant unit at school or in your home-school. This inquiry-based science activity is linked to K-2 Next Generation Science Standards and offers an extension idea to align with Common Core English and Language Arts standards as well. Paired with a wonderful children's book, you'll definitely want to add this to your spring to-do list for school or home!
Elementary School Seed Plant Science Experiment

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Growing "One Bean"

There are so many science lessons and life lessons learned when children grow something themselves. You can make this activity a part of a science unit on life cycles or just an introduction to gardening with children.

First, we read One Bean, a sweet picture book by Anne Rockwell. In this story a boy plants a bean seed and watches it grow. Although told in a narrative style, anyone could follow the process of growing a bean seed themselves along with the story.

The boy puts the bean in a damp paper towel to prepare it for planting. Once it is wrinkled, he plants it in some soil and waits for his seed to sprout. This is where most planting projects become mysterious! The beauty of your germination jar is that you'll be able to watch the process unfold.
Fava Bean Germination Science Experiment NGSS Aligned

Build a Germination Jar 

To build your seed viewer, or germination jar, you'll only need a few supplies:
Water beads are pretty amazing! You only need a few at a time, and you can dry them out and reuse them for other projects.(They would be great to study absorption as well, as they soak up that water and grow to be 100's of times their original size.)

There are many ways to germinate a seed by keeping it moist, including wrapping in a damp paper towel like in the bean story we read. However, I like that by using the water beads, you do not have to cover the top of the jar up with plastic wrap or something else to hold the moisture in. I have used that method many times to teach children about plants. It works, but it can also lead to mold growing because it sometimes stays too wet.
Build a Seed Germination Jar for Science Experiments

You will have to experiment with how many water beads and how much water to use. The jar we began with ended up being far too large, so eventually we moved our experiment to a smaller glass. Start by using just a few water beads- a tablespoon of them can go a long way. Pour a bit of water on and let them absorb it for a couple of hours before adding anything else.

You want your jar to be moist, but not too wet. You will need enough water beads to hold your seed in place, but not so many that there is no room to grow. This is the experiment within the experiment!

Watch a Seed Germinate

Before you start, soak your bean seed(s) in a glass of water over night. This really helps to get them off to a quick start. We chose fava beans because they are easy for small hands to hold and are large so you can really see what is going on with them.

Once you've soaked your seed and prepared your water beads, place the bean seed so that it is close to the side of the glass and easy to view. Be sure that there are water beads over the top of the seed so that it stays moist.

Watch a seed germinate, great activity for plant unit

Then, you wait! Until the seed begins to germinate, you might want to give the jar a little more water each day, carefully pouring it around the outside of the jar where the seeds are. Within a day or so, you should begin to see that first part of the sprout, the radicle, emerging from the seed.

Keep an eye on your jar. If your water beads seem to be shrinking, add just a bit more water. Once you have a green sprout, you can choose whether to leave the seed in the water beads, or plant it in some soil. If you plan on trying to keep your plant growing to maturity, I'd suggest planting it before too long.
Watch a seed germinate! Plant science experiment

If you are lucky enough to have garden space, then that is the obvious place to grow your beans, but for those with space at a premium, particularly schools, I would suggest investigating growing a pocket garden on a wall. Here is one type of pocket planter, and another, different but more affordable version. 

Composite Raised Beds


Meet Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards

This seed investigation will work towards meeting these Next Generation Science Standards for K-2.
NGSS 2-LS4-1

You can also work towards these K-2 Common Core English and Language Arts Standards by creating an observation journal that includes words as well as drawings.

More Plant Science Investigations! 

Learning with plants can continue throughout the spring and summer seasons. It is a great way to teach early measurement skills in preschool, or investigate biology concepts like pollination with elementary students.

If you are looking for other ways to use those water beads, you'll definitely want to check out this cool plant experiment idea from Steve Spangler science. It shows how to grow a seed INSIDE a water bead. 

One of my favorite experimental plant projects is growing an avocado plant from its pit.

Grow an Alphabet Themed Kids Garden

Try growing a themed garden with kids. Some theme ideas are: an alphabet garden, a rainbow garden, a taco garden, or a pizza garden. 

Explore math and science with sunflowers, and learn the parts of the flower with students in preschool all the way through High School by doing a flower dissection

Storybook Science Series

This activity is part of the Storybook Science series. You can find more great book-linked science activities in this series on the Inspiration Laboratories blog.

You'll also want to visit my Storybook Science posts from past years:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

10 Most Popular Science Activities of 2017

2017 has been another exciting year of growth on this little blog. I'm so thankful for my readers and your support! I wanted to share the 10 most popular science activities on the blog this year, as well as announce some exciting changes for Share it! Science in 2018.

I'll be taking a brief hiatus from writing any new blog posts as I work towards improving the Share it! Science site. In the new year the site will undergo a facelift, and get some behind-the-scenes updates that will improve the way readers navigate the site. You can also look forward to a regular newsletter that will be full of science, STEM and STEAM resources. There will continue to be content added to the site regularly, just as you've come to expect. I'm really excited about the changes and hope you stick around to see what is in store for us in 2018!

In case you missed these science, STEM and STEAM activities, here are the 10 most visited posts from the past year. Some are new, a few are oldies but goodies that continue to pique the interest of science teachers, homeschool families, and parents who love providing hands-on learning fun for their kids.

1. Year of the Solar Eclipse! 

This past summer, the United States went eclipse crazy! Due to that, I had my first viral post: Everything You Need to Know About the Great American Solar Eclipse

It included resources for finding out where and when the eclipse could be viewed, as well as safe viewing practices. Although it is rare that so many are able to witness a solar eclipse across the U.S.A. we'll have another opportunity in 2024, so tuck this post away again until then!

If you are interested in astronomy or want to teach kids more about it, you'll also want to visit these posts:

2. DIY Zoetrope STEAM Project

Early in 2017 I wrote this post about making your own zoetrope to create animation as part of a "A-Z STEM" series. Z was for Zoetrope! It quickly became one of my most popular posts of all time and is still very popular on the blog. If you love hands-on projects for kids this is one that will keep them engaged for hours!

If this project looks intriguing you'll also want to explore:


3. DIY Recycled Seed Paper

This older post has been a favorite on the blog for 2 years now. It is a tutorial for making your own recycled paper, infused with seeds. You can plant the paper right in the ground or a pot and grow flowers. It's not only a fun activity to help kids learn to recycle and about nature, but also makes a great homemade gift!

If you like DIY projects for the kids, or enjoy nature and gardening with children, you won't want to miss these activities:

4. Safe and Easy Projects for Little Spies and CSIs

Another oldie but goodie, the post "Spies and CSIs" has been a hit for a long time. It includes directions for 2 different invisible ink projects, that don't need candles or a heat source, and a version of fingerprinting that does not require ink. Great for a rainy afternoon, your students or children can create secret messages and a fingerprint database with materials you most likely have on hand already.

If your students or children love hands-on science activities like Spies and CSIs with materials that are easy to find, then you should definitely check out these posts:

5. Learn to Conserve: Build a Landfill Model 

I designed this conservation lesson around a children's book for a Storybook Science series earlier in the year. In "Here Comes the Garbage Barge" Inspired Landfill Model you can learn where all of the trash we generate goes and how a landfill works by building a model. I used this lesson many times when teaching 3rd grade science and it was always a fun eye-opener for my students.

If you teach conservation at home or school, you'll want to learn more about these green resources:

6. DIY Pinhole Projector to Safely View the Solar Eclipse

This DIY for building a pinhole projector to view the solar eclipse was very popular this summer as well. This is a great project for kids who like to build things. It requires simple materials and is a great lesson in optics as well as functioning as a tool for eclipse viewing.

To learn more about solar eclipses, or cool DIY projects, check out these links that I've also shared above:

7. Teaching Kids to Code 

Teaching kids how to code can help them develop important problem-solving and sequencing skills. This post on different ways to teach kids coding with and without a computer continues to be a popular one. It is a lot easier than you might think to teach these skills and it doesn't necessarily mean more screen time for kids.

If you are a STEM teacher, or any teacher or homeschool family for that matter, and are interested in educational technology, you will also find "Eduporium: A Great Resource for Educational Technology" useful.

8. Best Lesson for Teaching Water Conservation 

This water conservation demo was always an eye-opening and effective lesson when I was teaching science. It clearly and easily illustrates how little fresh, clean water is available to drink, and why we must conserve water. The bonus is that it uses materials you most likely already have in your kitchen.

If you are looking for more resources for teaching conservation or teaching science and STEM in general, you'll want to investigate the following.

9. Plan a Family STEAM Night at School or Home

STEAM, or the inclusion of art with the STEM disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is a huge movement in developing curriculum that stimulates all parts of the brain and engages creative problem-solving and design skills. This popular post outlines a Family STEAM Night event I helped to organize at my school. These fun, family STEAM activities can easily be used at home or school.

If you want to learn more about STEM and STEAM you won't want to miss the following:

10. Cool Engineering Projects for Kids

Check out Tinker Crate with us in this post where we use a STEM kit to build our own automaton! A great way to engage kids in tinkering, building and engineering!

Want to get kids engineering, designing and building? Check out these posts: