Designer Seeds

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In this activity, learners will examine a variety of seeds, describe them, and determine how they are dispersed. Learners will investigate seed dispersal mechanisms by creating and testing a wind dispersed seed that they have designed themselves. Learners will be limited to using a single piece of white paper, one lima bean to represent a seed, tape and scissors. Seeds will be tested by dropping them in front of a window fan and recording the distance they travel. Repeat trials will be conducted, averages calculated, and group data recorded. Learners will examine the features of successful seeds and redesign their seed to try to increase the distance it can be carried by wind. Results will be analyzed and comparisons made to natural phenomena. This lesson can be incorporated into a unit studying ecology, plants, seed dispersal, or evolution of plant traits. It addresses seed dispersal mechanisms as well as elements of experimental design.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • A variety of seeds
  • Magnifying glasses or dissecting microscopes
  • 1 box type/window fan
  • 1 meter stick
  • 8 1/2 X 11 paper
  • plastic tape
  • class set of scissors
  • lima beans (dried)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Populations
    • Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Taylor, Frank