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Did you enjoy the underwater hornwart experiment to show photosynthesis? Here are some ideas of experiments to do with a geranium, which you should be able to buy for about $3 at a local plant store. (Other plants will work, too; we picked geraniums because they are inexpensive and large enough for little eyes to see.)

Materials: potted plant, construction paper, small paint brushes

  1. Start by just observing the plant. What do you see? What parts does it have? What are those parts designed to do?
  2. Cover both sides of a leaf with construction paper to block the light for two weeks and watch how the leaf turns white as it can’t make food. The construction paper is preventing the chlorophyll in the leaves from absorbing the sun’s energy. This demonstration will help students understand that a plant does, in fact, need the sun.
  3. Feel the fuzzy leaves and hypothesize about why a plant would want fuzzy leaves (it helps keep water droplets off the pores of the leaf and allows it to “breathe” or transpire).
  4. During the spring, look for pollen in the flowers. Take a paint brush and use it to pick up the visible pollen on the stamen, or male reproductive organ of a plant. Then, dust the pollen from the paintbrush to the stigma, or female reproductive organ of the plant (see pictures below). Once the plant has been pollinated, seeds will form! Notice how the seeds curl out of the seed pods after the flowers have dropped off. Later, you can blow the seeds in the wind and notice how their long tails catch the breeze. Where are the seeds going?

What other experiments would you do with a plant to learn more about its parts?

The stamen is where pollen comes from. All of those small yellow dots are pollen.

The stigma receives pollen. Pollen causes pollination, when the egg of the plant develops into a seed.

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