The Science of Beans

| May 29, 2008 | 2 Comments

As the tiny person gets older, her curiosity in the checking-out-how-it-works realm grows exponentially.

Catch her out on the trail and she’ll be the one digging through the dirt, picking up creatures to examine and – in yesterday’s case – experimenting with the whole theory of velocity when pitching her boots into the marsh.

At home she’s the builder, the taker aparter, the garden explorer and the worm collector.

A life of science is rapidly emerging.

…and with it comes a whole new universe of discovery.

I totally admit that my vibe is one of the geeky scientist.

My most beloved possession as a child was a kid-sized microscope and boxes of slides my parents procured from local scientists eager to feed kiddos’ minds.

I deserted science as my life’s work upon the discovery that my brain shorts out in the presence of math.

Call it living vicariously, but I love that the tiny person has a mind for science – and as always, I continue to hope she inherited the latent math gene.

So, today we launch our Beakers Kidscience feature where the tiny person and I explore the science world through kid-friendly experiments.

Our first is a cool little science project we discovered in David Suzuki’s Looking at Plants, a new fave at our house. If you haven’t checked out the “Looking at” series from Suzuki, you are in for a treat. He’s magic in the learning universe.

The scientific question to resolve: Will roots always point down, no matter which way a seed is turned?

The limits of science are still dependent upon the limits of a preschooler attention span, and this one was the perfect project to do under the umbrella on the backyard picnic table.

Here’s what you need:

- Clean, dry jars with lids (we used pickle and nut butter jars)
- Paper towel (Suzuki recommended coloured paper towels. But, we used white)
- A variety of beans (we used some from a mix we had in the cupboard)
- A bowl of water


1. Take the bowl of water (I recommend filling it only about 1/4 to 1/3 full) and paper towels. Dip the paper towels in water.

2. Stick them in the jars.

3. Take the beans and place them between the paper towels and the side of the jar, making sure the are at least 5 centimeters apart.

4. Keep paper towels moist (we discovered that putting the lid on meant we didn’t have to rewet the towels and it was like a little greenhouse.

5. After a few days, you’ll see the roots sprouting. Note which way they are pointing. Check them again at the end of the week and note if the position of the seed makes a difference in the way the roots grow.

6. When the roots are about 3 centimeters long turn the jar upside down.

7. Check the roots in a few days and note which way the roots are pointing now.

I’d give away our results, but that might skew your experiment.

So, have fun with this one and learn a bit about the life of a bean in the process!

Programming Note:

CCFeaturedButton We were featured on the amazing Crafty Crow craft collective this morning. Being the novice crafter, I’m very honoured to be in the company of some of the great crafty mamas out there. Send Cassi and her crew a little love by clicking through on the logo above and checking Crafty Crow out for yourselves.

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Category: ARTS & LITERACY, Science

About the Author ()

Robin Rivers is the Project Development Director for Vancouver-based Mherge Media Group. Often can be found leaping tall buildings with the help of great friends. Predisposed to odd hats and the color orange. In love with imagination, her kids and that crazy guy who married her.

Comments (2)

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  1. Shawna says:

    Wow! I will definitely have to give this bean experiment a try! I will also be adding the Crafty Crow to my favorites. What a great resource!

  2. Andi says:

    We love the bean experiment!! We started one about 6 weeks ago and when it got to the point of taking over the kitchen windowsill we moved it outside. Unfortunately it was much happier in the kitchen. :( Not too worry though, we’ll be trying again. :)

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