Botany

Botany makes for very good science fair projects both because of its long history and because plants are easy and exciting to work with.

Botany, the study of plants, is one of the oldest areas of human knowledge. It makes sense: humans have been dependent on agriculture for thousands of years, and we have had to know as much as we could about the plants we grow, eat, and feed to our livestock.

Botany makes for very good science fair projects both because of its long history and because plants are easy and exciting to work with.

Project #1:
Amazing Plants: Phototropism




This is a good science fair project that investigates a property of plants known as phototropism: that is, their ability to grow toward light sources wherever they may be. You may be surprised at how clever these plants can be, even without a brain

MATERIALS:

  • 2 small potatoes with buds (so that they can sprout)
  • 2 small planting pots
  • soil
  • scissors or a sharp knife
  • empty cardboard box with lid (shoeboxes work well)
  • 3 pieces of cardboard
  • tape
  • ruler
  • water
  • a shelf sunlight and warmth

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Come up with your hypothesis – do you think the potato plant will be able to navigate the maze you set up? If so, how do you think it will manage this? If not, how far do you think it will get?

2. Put the potatoes in the sun for a couple of weeks so that their buds (also known as “eyes”) can grow

3. While you are waiting, prepare the shoebox: cut a hole roughly 2 inches x 2 inches in one of the narrow ends. Cut the pieces of cardboard so that they are the same height as the box (touching the lid when stood on end) and about 2-thirds of its width.

4. Tape the cardboard rectangles to the inside of the box in an alternating pattern to make a curving maze. Make sure that no direct light can get from the hole to the other end of the box. Leave enough room in one end for the small pot containing a potato.

5. Once the buds have grown, place each potato in a pot. Cover them with soil so that the largest bud is just above he level of the soil.

6. Place one of the pots in the box. Cover the box with the lid. Put the other pot next to the box, so that they both get the same amount of sun and warmth.

7. Water both plants regularly. When you water the plant in the box, do so only at night with all lights off so that you do not let light in through the top of the box.

8. Come back in two weeks to measure the length of each potato sprout. Which one grew faster? Did the one in the box grow through the maze, or was it stunted? Was your hypothesis confirmed?

*TIP: You can try these good science fair projects with many different kinds of plants. Ask your gardener or nursery staff for advice!

 

Project #2:
Growing Potatoes




Potatoes, an ancient human staple crop, reproduce in a somewhat unusual way. Like many other tubers, they reproduce vegetatively. Do a little research and see if you can find out just what this means. Then get ready for these good science fair projects involving potato growth.

MATERIALS:

  • 2 to 3 seed potatoes (available at a garden supply store and some grocery stores)
  • three small planting pots
  • permanent marker
  • high-quality soil
  • sharp knife
  • water
  • ruler

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Find the eyes (or “buds”) on all of your potatoes. If there are none yet, leave the potato in the sun for a little while in a shallow dish of water, and wait for them to appear.

2. Label one of the planting pots “eyes only,” another “with eyes” and a third “without eyes”

3. Once all of your potatoes have a few eyes on them, you are ready to cut them up. Carefully cut off several eyes from one potato and put them in the appropriate pot. Cut the other potatoes in such a way that some of the pieces have eyes and others do not.

Put two to three pieces of potato in each pot, according to whether the pieces do or do not have eyes.

4. Make sure the pieces have plenty of soil under them and an inch or so covering them

5. Water each pot (taking care not to over-water), and place them in the sun.

6. Come back every few days to water the pots and observe any growth. Write down your observations on a data sheet.

As you can see, good science fair projects don’t have to be difficult to do!

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