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  • Sara Thompson

Get a Closer Look at Seeds

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

7 stages of bean germination, from seed to seedling
Navy bean germination from seed to seedlings; Image by B. Domangue, obtained from Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a seed looks like? If you can wait just a few extra days, there is a simple way you can get a much closer look at seeds from home.

Materials: paper towel, water, ziplock bag, beans or seeds, tray or plate, dissection tools, such as toothpick, dental pick, fork, etc.

Start by getting your paper towel nice and wet. I like to use two pieces of paper towel. Wring them out gently, try not to ball them up as you need them to lay flat. Once they are nice and wet, place some seeds or beans on one sheet. Try to space them out around an inch apart. Next, place your other sheet over the top and fold the edges slightly so the seeds don’t roll out. Gently place the towels and seeds in the ziplock bag and place somewhere sunny, a windowsill works nicely.

After about five days the seeds will begin to sprout. Gently take them out of the bag and place the seeds on a tray or plate. You can now dissect the seeds! The outer shell will be soft so you can easily poke through it with a toothpick or fork. Gently peel apart the shell to see all of the structures inside and also take a look at the new sprout. How is the sprout shaped? Which direction is it growing?

This experiment is best done with beans but try other kinds of seeds to see how they differ. Harder seeds might need longer to sprout, but just keep a watch on them. It is also a lot of fun to sprout different kinds of beans and compare them. Images of bean sprouts can be found online to help you identify the parts.

Campers in this week’s Need for Seeds Camp dissected bean sprouts and planted their own seeds to take home. Campers also learned about the difference between coniferous and deciduous trees, pollinators, decomposers, and more!


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