Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This Week in Science

A few weeks ago AnnaBeth's Brownie troops planted seeds in pots. I instantly forgot what type of seeds they were -- some sort of flower. I have a mental block about doing plant-related projects with large groups of children, since they typically involve decorating clay pots that then get ruined when you try to water the plants therein, but this project used plain pots, so it was okay. But I still sort of blocked out all memory of what happened.

And the tiny little seeds sprouted, and we duly separated them into more pots, cutting off some that were too crowded. We discussed briefly why we cut them off instead of ripping them apart, and why we are so gentle with our transplanting and untangling of the seedlings (root hairs).

During all of this AnnaBeth commented that she'd really like to study plants next. And just like that, we dumped our study of the human body, and turned to botany.

We discovered several seeds in the kitchen cabinet:

Clockwise -- mung beans, white beans, kidney beans, wheat berries, and red lentils. We have more choices than this. but this seemed like a good start.

We soaked them in water overnight:

The skins of the kidney beans started getting wrinkly right away. I asked AnnaBeth to speculate on why that would happen.

The next day we split them open, and looked over the parts:

It probably would've been clever to make a sketch of the beans and label the parts. Too bad I didn't think of it at the time. Years from now she'll be able to claim I never told her those were cotyledons and explained the difference between monocots and dicots; really, though, it happened, but we don't have the worksheet to prove it.

We also put a bunch of mung beans in a jar, and a bunch of lentils in another jar, and sprouted them to eat. The mung beans were great, and AnnaBeth even ate some of them (if you know AnnaBeth you realize just how amazing that is):

The lentils didn't do so well. Some sprouted, some didn't, and overall they smelled off. We pitched them.

We've also started the popular "stick kidney beans in a jar up next to the side of it and watch them sprout" experiment, and planted some lemon seeds from a lemon we were cutting up.

Much, much more to come. There's about a zillion things you can do with plants in the spring. AnnaBeth keeps commenting how FUN this is, so much more fun than the human body. I pointed out that one problem with studying the human body is that you can't just cut it open and poke around, so it's a little more limited for fun hands-on projects at the elementary age.

Way back when Thalia was about 6 years old she and I studied plants. At the time the concept of "studying plants" gave me visions of fun worksheets about the Krebs cycle, or explaining red/far red light with little drawings of vibrating photons. Fortunately for Thalia I reigned in tendency to think that my young child needed to have a college level understanding of botany. (I see other people doing this to their kids, too, and realize that we really dodged a bullet there in our homeschooling.) So don't expect that sort of thing out of this unit. We'll be doing lots of hands on work with plants.


Ami said...

"And just like that, we dumped our study of the human body, and turned to botany."

Just one more reason to love homeschooling. Doing what works when you want to. No waiting for a curriculum committee, no waiting for the school board to stop picking their butts and allow changes.

km said...

I love that you were ready to jump into a new idea so quick.

My kids planted some seeds last fall, and around Christmas time our little bean plants actually had beans growing from them. I was surprised that we got anything at all since these were grocery store beans not seed beans. I need to do some plant things as we're planting our garden for this year. It's so fun to watch things grow. I wonder will a lemon seed grow a lemon tree that produces fruit. If so, I should plant some...we've got a lemon tree.