Seeds: Roots and Shoots

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In this indepth hands-on activity, learners build a structure that allows them to observe the growth of roots and the correlation between root growth and stem extension. Because no dirt is used in this arrangement, a guiding question can be posed: What does the plant need to grow? The PDF includes activity rationale, procedure, background and follow-up discussion suggestions. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 7 days

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

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


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 wallpaper tray (per group)
  • 1 seed (per group)
  • 1 dowel 1-1/8 inch in diameter, 3 feet long (per group)
  • 8 medium binder clips (per group)
  • 1 roll of plastic wrap
  • 1 grow lamp if natural light is unavailable
  • white paper towels
  • 4-5 boxes of T-pins
  • masking tape (1/2 inch wide)
  • digital camera(s)
  • 1 piece of plastic cardboard 10 inches x 20 inches (per group)


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Gardening
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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


Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, DRL‐0714703