Science At Home : FLOWERS

SCIENCE AT HOME : FLOWERS AKA BOTANY

For science at home, I’ve got an easy STEM activity to impress your kids! Since it’s spring as I’m writing this, we’re going with flowers, as in Botany! (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

Louie and crocuses
not sure why Louie looks afraid here...any guesses?

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!

Plant in dry ground
DON'T FORGET TO WATER YOUR BULBS!

I was astounded at how fast the bulbs sprouted in the water!

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!

Allium bulbs

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. 

Bubble floating

GRAVITROPISM

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.

amusement park ride
Outside guy gravity >Inside girl gravity...NO that is not me!
Blue flowers

PHOTOTROPISM

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….

 

Zucchini in space
Zucchini in Space courtesy NASA (ISS)
Mangroves

HYDROTROPISM

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.

A hormone, auxin has a lot to do with plant physiology, too.

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. 

 

If you like this post, please use the share buttons below! And subscribe above. (You’ll be helping my deep seated insecurities. And learning about science!)

PRETTY FLOWERS : SIX WEEK UPDATE ON SCIENCE MAGIC

Quick update: Here’s a pic on the right of the blooms just starting to pop! It’s been fun to watch the science magic…stay tuned for another update.

Impress your posse with science magic botany
Blooming fast..three days later than above
Impress your posse with science magic bulbs flowers
Glads in Bloom
author websites botany
The package claimed these were red....
Science Magic Impress your posse
Louie loves STEM

SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE SCIENCE AT HOME!

CLICK FOR EMAILS FROM LOUIE ABOUT MORE SCIENCE!

Share:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on pocket
Share on email
Share on print

82 thoughts on “Science At Home : FLOWERS”

  1. What a bright and informative post. My parents love gardening so growing up I was used to being in gardens centres and being with them as they pottered in the garden, so this post makes me smile. Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  2. My little girl loves flowers and I love all activities I can make educational! Thank you for such a wonderful activity and the explanation behind it! I will definitely be doing this with her.

    Reply
  3. Oo I’ve always wanted to grow my own plants but never got around to it. Some very useful tips in this post too! X

    Reply
  4. This looks like such a fun activity! We always plant 100s of bulbs every autumn but I’ll have to remember to save a few for some Spring experiments like this next time – fingers crossed! Lisa

    Reply
    • Nice about your bulbs! I bet your yard is lovely. What types do you plant?
      Definitely save a few this fall. No need to wait until May. You can start them sooner, keep them indoors and have flowers!

      Reply
  5. What great growth! I grew a tulip from a bulb a few years back and it worked so well. Hope yours are beautiful when they bloom. And that’s so cool how they know which way to sprout!

    Reply
  6. I love all of these different STEM activities with kids. I think STEM is so important – especially since it is something that really helps our society. I love that you got to grow these bulbs! It is interesting – I always thought plants always grow towards the light and in this case, the sun! Thanks for sharing all of these great facts!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    Reply
  7. This sounds like such a great activity, I can’t remember the last time I planted something as a bulb and waited for them to grow, I was probably still in school! The flowers look beautiful. It’s nice when you can see your time and effort become something so pretty! x

    Sophie

    Reply
  8. I’ve never been really good at gardening, but I think that this is something which I could easily try out. Looks super fun as well, not just for kids either haha – great post, thanks for sharing x

    Reply
    • Oh, ouch! I have spring hay fever issues, too. Crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are three bulbs that don’t cause allergy issues. You could consider trying with those, maybe? Or do a test with a bouquet first! Let me know if you do and how it goes!

      Reply
  9. This is such an interesting and informative post! I absolutely loved reading it! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    melissakacar.blogspot.com

    Reply
  10. Great post! It is great that you are encouraging children to garden and get hands on, especially during this covid19 Lockdown. I have saw a lot of mums sharing activities with their kids but this is definitely one of the best ones I have saw. I love that you have encouraged gardening and science at the same time! Lovely pictures too and Louie is a beauts boxer boy!! My boxer girl Coda would love him xx

    Reply
  11. This is cool. I haven’t tried bulbs yet, but I have been having fun trying to get basil to root in water.

    Reply
  12. So cool post! It was a very interesting read with a lot of facts!
    Unfortunately I think gardening isn’t my thing! I have tryed to plant many times and in many ways but it (almost) always ends very bad 😀 Maybe I need to practise more? Or start with something very simple?

    Reply
    • My guess is that you need to water them more? I’m no expert but that’s often the issue. Bulbs in the ground are a pretty good place to start. Lots of them can be planted in the fall, too. Let me know if you want some specific ideas!Happy to try to lend a hand!

      Reply
  13. Your writing and science fascinates me. The bulb growing is such a good idea. I’ll subscribe, I need to read more!

    Reply
    • Oh my goodness, I’d love it if you’d subscribe! I’m happy that you’re fascinated. (I am, too.) Please don’t forget to look for the confirmation email. It often goes to spam. Thanks so much!

      Reply

I'd love to hear what you think! Please jot me a note below. Please note that all comments are held for moderation.

Susan Berk Koch
Be the best-informed reader!

Cool Science is my email newsletter where I share information about future science, new tech developments, as well as tools and resources for STEM at home. It arrives every two weeks and you’ll only hear from me. (And Louie)

YES! I'm IN

Enter your email and I’ll share news about future science, how to do STEM activities, and the best books.

And more Louie!

Science is Magic

Be the smartest person!

I’ll share news about future science, new species, show you how to do science at home with your kids, find the best books and more. You’ll only hear from me and only twice a month, tops.

louie
Louie will be so happy!

Don’t miss out on More Cool Science! Subscribe for twice monthly articles. Thanks so much.