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Sprouting Thanksgiving Science Fun

This article appeared in the November 20, 2015 edition of the Davis Enterprise.


By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


Dried ears of Indian corn can be decorative, multicolored additions to a Thanksgiving centerpiece, but they can also be the foundation of a fun science experiment to keep the festivities going long after the meal is over.


The kernels on the ears of corn are the seeds from which the corn plant grows. What would happen if you could plant these seeds? Could you get a plant to grow from some dried out kernels? Let’s try it and find out!


You will need: 2 ears of Indian corn, 2 shallow containers big enough for one ear of corn, some potting soil, water and a sunny window sill. The procedure is very simple: add an inch or so of soil to one container and about an inch or so of water to the other.


Place one ear of corn in each container. Each ear should be covered about half way with either soil or water. Now place your containers in a sunny spot and keep your eyes peeled for any sprouts. Be sure to add a little water to the soil container every day or two.


If a few kernels fall off the ear, that’s ok. Let them float in the water or gently press them into the soil. They may also begin to sprout.


In about a week, you should be seeing a few green shoots. This is the coleoptile and it contains the very first leaves of a baby plant.


The coleoptile is actually not the first shoot to emerge from a sprouting seed. The first is the radicle root, and you may be able to see it coiling out of a few fallen kernels. The radicle root is the baby plant’s first attempt to grab onto something to support its growth.


Next to come will be the lateral seminal roots that look like smaller radicle roots. Meanwhile the coleoptile will grow and unfold, creating small leaves that resemble blades of grass.


Are both ears growing at the same rate? Is one growing faster than the other? Is soil or water best for sprouting Indian corn? Your sprouted ears of corn can keep the festivities going long after Thanksgiving has come and gone.



Explorit’s coming events:


  • 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!
  • Join our Public Hours team as a volunteer docent and help us greet museum visitors and facilitate our exciting exhibitions! Fill out an application at today.
  • Our popular Winter Workshops return for the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Registration is open now! Visit for all the details.
  • Interested in helping out the community through board membership? Explorit is currently seeking individuals in the community to serve as members of our volunteer board. Please call or email for additional information on how to apply.
  • Interested in membership?  Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed?  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up!
  • Birthdays are back at Explorit!  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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