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Hands-on experiments

David W. Kramer kramer.8 at OSU.EDU
Fri Feb 27 15:07:00 EST 1998

You might find an activity on one of the following web sites:

US Dept. of Education (careful... some errors in this material)

Doing Science

The School Page

What I would do:

Give each child (family unit) three 4-6 inch plastic plates, three clear
plastic cups, a small piece of dry sponge (try to find the 2x3 inch
sponges, 1/4 in. thick and cut into pieces that will fit under the cup),
and 6 bean seeds.  Have them design an experiment to see if water is
necessary for seed germination (dry sponge, barely damp sponge, wet
sponge).  Or an experiment to see if temperature affects germination
(refrigerator, room temperature, very warm place).  Of to see if light is
necessary for seed germination (dark closet or drawer, desk lamp,
sunlight).  Of course, make sure the children clearly write the problem
being investigated ("To see if ........), and a hypothesis.

Another possibility:  go outside and gather debris from a window well or
from a forest floor and from another location of their choice, preferably a
dry place.  Bring the collected material into lab and sort the objects,
look at some under the dissecting scope (or with hand lens), determine
whether animal or plant (how can you tell?), etc.  Talk about what was
found in each place and discuss why organisms live where they do.  Put some
of each collection in separate plastic bags ("growth chambers") with a damp
sponge or wet paper towels and make a hypothesis about what will happen.
See what happens after a few days.  Be sure you collect some of this kind
of material several days ahead of your session just in case it's raining or
snowing on that day!  You can show them what might happen in the "growth
chambers" by starting some about a week ahead and using them for
demonstration.  Point out the opportunities to experiment with the growth
chambers by varying the amount of water, temperature, light, etc.

>I have been asked to do an exhibition for a science open day that will
>attract members of the public- mainly families with children ranging from 5
>upwards. The aim is to stimulate an interest in plants and to give them
>something that they can try out for themselves- ie simple
>experiments/things to look at. I'd welcome any suggestions from any of you
>with experience of these things.
>Alyson Tobin
>Dr A.K. Tobin
>Plant Science Laboratory
>School of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology
>Sir Harold Mitchell Building
>University of St Andrews
>St Andrews
>KY16 9TH
>Tel 01334 463375
>Fax 01334 463366

Dr. David W. Kramer
Department of Plant Biology
Ohio State University at Mansfield
1680 University Drive
Mansfield, OH  44906-1547
(419) 755-4344  FAX:  (419) 755-4367
e-mail:  kramer.8 at osu.edu

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