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Green Toe

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Author: Jane Healey

Plants spread their seeds far and wide in the attempt to continue the survival of their species.  Many of these seeds share a “hook” design that helps them cling to a passing object and plant themselves in the material for the ride. When they dislodge, they settle into their new environment and with the right conditions—water, oxygen, warm temperatures—they sprout and continue the plants existence.

In this experiment, the independent variable is the two fields, and the dependent variable is the growth from the trek.  The constants are the bowl, the water and the conditions.

Problem:

The goal of this experiment is to discover the quantity and variety of seeds present in the everyday world. Seeds can be miniscule, and humans may not notice them even when they search. This active method of testing the composition of a common field brings the plethora of samples to life.

Materials:

  • 4 cotton socks, preferably worn to the knee
  • 4 bowls of the same size and style
  • Distilled water
  • Magnifying glass
  • Field guide
  • Logbook

Procedure:

  1. Wear long pants and pull socks over the trouser legs and up to the knee. Hold the socks up with rubber bands if necessary.
  2. Find an open field of grasses and other growth and walk through it slowly for approx. 20 mins.
  3. Remove the socks carefully and store in a plastic bag until returning home.
  4. Repeat the first three steps at a second, nearby field.
  5. At home, label the bowls with the names of the fields.
  6. Place each sock in its bowl and cover with the same amount of distilled water.
  7. Move the bowls to a sunny location with moderate and constant temperature.
  8. Check the socks daily, adding water if necessary to keep sock wet.
  9. Record what happens to each sock.
  10. After about a week the sprouts should take on unique characteristics that allow for identification with the field guide.  Take best guesses to ascertain the distinctions between the two locations.
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