Market Science on May 16th was all about seeds!
Seeds are amazing! They come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes, plus they hold all of the information and energy to create a new plant. Seeds provide many economically valuable products. We eat seeds. We plant seeds in our gardens and farms. Also, many of the oils that we use in everyday life for cooking and industry come from seeds. At Market Science, we explored many aspects of seeds.
We had a diverse assortment of seeds from different plants and market-goers were invited to match the seeds with the plants that they came from. This was a challenging activity, even for us. We talked about how the shapes, colors, and size of seeds all affect their properties as foods and how the environments that the plants live in influence the types of seed characteristics that we see.
We also grew corn plants from seeds in the light and in the dark. Market-goers could see how the plants grown in the light were green and healthy, whereas the plants grown in the dark were pale and very tall. The pale, tall corn plants (also called etiolated) were using energy packed in the seeds to try and find the light so that they could start photosynthesis and make their own sugar. We were all amazed by how much energy was contained in the seeds to allow the plants to grow as large as they had in search of light.
Market-goers were able to look at a just emerged soybean seedling under the microscope. We were able to see the first leaves (cotyledons) that are energy storing and producing leaves in the seeds. These important first leaves help the plant get established and make energy through photosynthesis. We also talked about how the number of cotyledons (1 or 2) is one of the defining characteristics for an important division of all plants into two major groups. These two major groups perform photosynthesis and other functions differently. Lastly, we were able to seed the first new true leaves and how they were covered in little hairs to help prevent bugs from munching on them.
We also had two hands-on activities where participants could take home what they created. First, market-goers could use seeds of varying sizes, shapes, and colors along with stencils and glue to create seed art. We had many beautiful works of art. Second, we had seeds and dirt available with small decomposable pots (cut-up egg cartons) where kids and adults could plant a seed and take it home.
So much fun with seeds!