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Sprouting a Seed Jar Reveals Root Science

This article appeared in the April 7, 2017 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Sprouting a Seed Jar Reveals Root Science

A sprouting date seed. Photo by Amada44.


By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


Spring is a wonderful time of flowers blossoming, new plants sprouting and life popping up everywhere! But when you see plants just beginning to grow, have you ever wondered what’s going on beneath the soil? The leaves, stems and flowers we see above ground are just the beginning!


But how can we catch a glimpse of what growing plants hide underground? This easy and fun science experiment to try at home will reveal all! You will need: a clear container like a mason jar, some wet paper towels and a few seeds. Try sunflower seeds or any kind of bean to get quick results.


Fill the jar with wadded up, wet paper towels, then carefully slide a few seeds down the sides of the jar so that they are trapped between the paper towels and the sides of the jar. Make sure your seeds are fully visible.


Place the jar in a sunny spot like a windowsill, and check on it every day. Keep adding just enough water to keep the paper towels from drying out.


In a few days, you’ll start to see something happening. The seeds should look like they’re getting fatter, and there may be a plant structure starting to poke out. Can you explain what you’re observing? What’s causing the seeds to begin sprouting now?


First, you’ll see a root grow out of the side of the seed. As the root grows longer, it will push down toward the bottom of the jar and you’ll begin to see some fine root hairs start to grow sideways out of the main root.


Then as the root moves down and pushes the seed up, the seed will begin to sprout shoots that will become leaves. When you’ve got leaves, your seed has become a seedling and is ready to be planted in a pot or in your garden.


Once planted in soil, the root and root hairs will continue to grow and provide structural for the seedling as well as water and nutrients as the seedling develops into a plant. Now you know what’s happening under the soil as well as above it!



Explorit’s coming events:


●      Summer Science Camp registration is open now! Find all the details at

●      Join Explorit for Art After Dark at the Pence Gallery on Friday, April 7, 7:00 pm-10:00 p.m.

●      Save the date of Sunday, August 27 for Explorit’s annual end of summer Final Blast celebration, a full day of fun for the whole community!

●      Save your clean tin cans and toilet paper tubes for Explorit! We are almost out of one of our most popular Challenge Center building materials. You can help stock us up by saving your clean household items and bringing them to Explorit’s office at 3141 5th St. during our regular business hours, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

●      Explorit’s Exploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and every Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free. Come check out the new Nano Mini Exhibition!

●      Birthdays are fun with science at Explorit! Choose Super Birthday Party topics to make this a special event! Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 for more information or to book your party.



Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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