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Do Plants Need Light?

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Barbara Tharp, MS.

Session 1: Observing Dry Seeds

In this activity, students will observe the process of a bean seed growing into a bean plant. They will compare and contrast a dry bean seed with one that has been soaked in water. They will plant soaked bean seeds and monitor their growth under different light conditions. By the end of the activity, students will have discovered that light is essential for plant growth.

Give each student a dry bean and a magnifier. Have students use their magnifiers to observe the bean seeds. Then, have students draw their seeds on the “Seeds and Seedlings” sheet. Make sure that each student is able to observe the seed coat and the dark indentation on one side of the seed, from where the new plant will emerge. 

Before planting, give each student a soaked seed (on a paper towel) for observation. Students should compare the soaked seed to the dry seed one they had seen previously. Ask, How is the soaked seed similar to the dry one? How are the two seeds different? 

Have students remove the “skin” (seed coat) and spread apart the pieces of the tiny plant inside. They will be able to identify the cotyledons (seed leaves), other tiny leaves and the beginnings of what will become the plant root.


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932