I’ve got an easy STEM activity to impress your kids! Since it’s spring as I’m writing this, we’re going with Botany Magic! (But you can do this any time of year.)
All you need are bulbs, water, and one week. Voila!
In spring and early summer, I’m more than ready for some garden color. Seeing the pretty crocuses, tulips, and daffodils makes me eager for some of my own.
So let’s do this….don’t be afraid!
Listen if you like. Bulb Magic!
BULB FIELD TRIP!
A quick field trip to the garden center gave me a plethora of options! (Sorry, you need to buy bulbs, but they are inexpensive and right at the front of the garden center.)
I decided on gladiolus. They are big and showy and bright, and bloom in early June. With my STEM activity, we’ll have flowers speedy quick!
NOW THAT YOU HAVE YOUR BULBS, HERE ARE THE STEPS TO BOTANY MAGIC:
Find a container for your bulbs that will hold 1/4 inch of water.
(I used a plastic container because I went a little overboard at the garden center!)
A saucer will work well!
Put your bulbs in the container, root side down. (Save the package instructions so you know how far down to plant them when you move them to the dirt!)
Add 1/4 ” of water.
Put your bulbs in a sunny window.
Watch your bulbs carefully.
If you’ve got kids at home, have them keep a science notebook with their observations.
Don’t let the bulbs dry out!
After a week, I decided it was time to get these bulbs in a pot! (You can put them in the ground if you prefer!) Or if you’re reading this and it’s not spring or summer, keep your beauties in the house in a pot.
Most important is how deep you plant them.
The directions on the bulb package told me how far down to plant the bulbs. For gladiolus, that’s five inches. Rule of thumb, the bigger the bulb, the further down they go.
I wanted to get this out to you so I don’t have my flowers yet, but my glads will look like the pics above! (I’m sure of it!)
Am I delusional? I’ll add my pretty flower pictures in a few weeks and show you that I’m not.
Yes, you’ll have hummingbirds, too!
Your kids or significant others might ask you questions, such as…
HOW DO THE PLANTS KNOW WHICH WAY IS UP OR DOWN?
I am happy to provide that answer for you, so you can look super smart! Then we’ll add your photo to the pics below!
How do plants know which way is up and which way is down? It’s dark in the dirt.
If you’ve ever gotten turned around in a pool, you know to wait for those bubbles so you can tell which way is up.
Strangely, this is a real puzzle. We still don't know for sure how plants do it. What botanists do know is that plants exhibit gravitropism. The cells in their roots use gravity as a guide for growth. Bubbles don't actively do anything with gravity! But they are affected.
If you’ve even gone on one of those spinning rides, you’ve felt this for yourself.
Gravity increases along the outside as the spin increases. They didn’t have those rides in 1813, but Thomas Knight, a British physiologist, used this concept to do an experiment. He attached seedlings to a spinning plate.
The seedlings all pointed in various directions, and the wheel was spun at 150 revolutions per minute over many days.
A few days later, after the seeds had begun to germinate, the shoots all pointed toward the inside of the wheel, while the roots pointed outward..towards the greater gravity. Here’s a more recent study that provides a few hypotheses as to how this happens.
Gravity isn’t the only factor. Charles Darwin observed in his 1880 book, The Power of Movement in Plants, that plants respond to light and move toward the light source. We’ve all seen our house plants orient towards the light. It’s called phototropism.
To make things more complicated, experiments on the ISS (international space station) show that roots apparently don’t need gravity to orient. They’ll grow away from a light source regardless of gravitational forces.
So root orientation a combination of different factors.
Gravitropism and phototropism. I bet you can guess what hydrotropism is….
The growth or turning of plant roots toward or away from moisture. Surprisingly, scientists don’t know exactly how plants sense and respond to water.
One last fun STEM activity. If your store lettuce is hydroponic (grown in water) you can grow it again! Put the end of the stalk in water! (see below)
Time to enjoy the pretty flowers!
Green thumb or not, you can do this! Let me know how it goes.
I have another fun STEM activity to try here! Easy to do. You probably have the materials around the house, so no shopping necessary.
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