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4-H News (03/15/2006)
by Carolyn Dingfelder

It's in the air and according to the calendar spring is only days away! This is the time to start many varieties of plants from seed, both vegetables and flowers. There are also many activities to conduct that help explore how and why a small seed can become a living plant. First we will ask what it takes to make a seed grow. You will become a detective through careful observation and will become "a walking experiment" by choosing a variable and making a seed necklace. You will discover what it takes to cause a seed to germinate, grow and learn about skills to solve problems, analyze possible causes and or reasons.

Materials needed: scissors, hole punch, water, yarn, dropper, soybeans (or other type of bean seeds), cotton ball, and small sealable plastic bag. The Activity: first brainstorm a list of things it takes to make a seed grow. (Sample answers - water, sunshine, soil, heat, fertilizer). Then experiment by making a seed necklace to demonstrate what conditions are needed for germination of a seed by placing a cotton ball in small plastic bag. Then add one or two soybeans and a cotton ball that you dampen with the dropper (note that too much water will cause the seed to rot). Seal the bag and punch a hole at the top above the seal. Cut a piece of yarn long enough to fit around your neck, string it through the hole. Place it like a necklace around your neck and place the seed necklace inside your clothes (seed need warmth to grow). Take good care of your seed necklace, it is fragile! You will want to set up other "experiment necklaces that only involve one change in variables. Each one becomes a "walking experiment." Examples of other variables could be: seeds with soil, seeds with no water, seeds with another liquid instead of water, seeds on the outside of clothing (less heat), seeds on a sunny windowsill, seed necklaces stored in the refrigerator or freezer, other kinds of seeds, or a seed necklace made using an empty dark film canister (no light). What variables can you think of to try?

After your experiment(s) share what you did provide for your seed so that it would germinate and why your seed necklace grew or did not grow. From your experiment what did you learn to be the prime conditions needed to make a seed germinate? What problems might other gardeners or farmers need to solve to provide the proper conditions for germination of their seeds?

More challenges would be to investigate seeds with unusual germination requirements and then to germinate your own seeds and plant a garden. Use a journal to record seed growth from germination to harvest and all the results from your "walking experiments"

Some helpful facts on germination: Germination is the sprouting of a seed when exposed to certain conditions: water, oxygen, and warmth. Water is absorbed by the seed, causing it to swell and the seed coat to soften. The young plant is called a seedling when if first sprouts. Monocots, such as corn and grasses, possess one seed leaf (cotyledon). Dicots, such as radishes, soybeans, and peas possess two cotyledons. The food for the growing plant is stored inside the seed until leaves emerge. Although all plants need water, some will germinate at cooler temperatures than other. Radishes, peas, lettuce and broccoli can germinate in early spring. Beans, corn, and sunflowers need the warmer soil of late spring. An interesting situation is that to germinate, seeds need warmth, not all seeds need sunshine. However, as leaves emerge, the plant needs light in order to survive.

As our winter transitions to spring continue to be "walking experiments" and explore all that will be emerging and changing during this transitional time. Have fun being a detective.

Resource: National 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System, Acres of Adventures

Calendar of Events:

March 18, 4-H Food Show, Lewiston/Altura High School

March 20, 4-H Federation Meeting, Lewiston Elementary - 7:30 PM

March 20, Livestock Project Development Committee Meetings, 6:45 PM

March 20, Food Stand Meeting, Lewiston Elementary, 6:45 PM

April 1, LQA&E Level II Workshop, Utica Community Center

April 1, Dairy Workshop, Lewiston

April 1, Regional Camp Counselor Training, Rochester

April 8, LQA&E Level I Workshop, Utica Community Center

April 22, 4-H Goat Workshop, Wilson Fire Hall 


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