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Do Plants Need Light?

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


The following materials will be required to conduct this activity. Have students work in groups of 4.

Materials per Student Group 

  • 12 soaked bean seeds 
  • 4 dry bean seeds 
  • 4 hand lenses (magnifiers) 
  • 4 peat pots (3-in. size) or disposable cups 
  • 4 pieces of string or yarn (each approx. 6 in. long) 
  • 4 sheets of paper towels or paper plates 
  • 2 cups of moistened soil 
  • Dispensing bottle (2-oz size), or dropper 
  • Metric ruler 
  • Copies of “Seeds and Seedlings” and “Just Growing Up” student sheets

Materials per Student

  • Crayons or colored markers 
  • Sheet of white paper


Overnight, soak enough bean seeds in a container of water to provide at least 12 soaked seeds for each group of students. Each group also will need at least 4 dry bean seeds.

Place the soil in a plastic bag or container and add water until it is damp. Let the moistened soil sit in the unsealed bag for at least 1/2 hour before using.

As an alternative to peat pots, use disposable plastic or foam cups (punch one or more drainage holes in the bottom of each cup). After students have planted their seeds, set the pots/cups on plastic or foil trays near a light source.

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