A Swell Activity with Beans

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In this combination chemistry and physics activity, learners explore water absorption in dried beans or peas and learn how this affects their physical properties. They observe changes in size, skin, texture, color and other features. If desired, they can take it one step further and see if the soaking of the beans affects their sprouting ability in any way.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • 4 test vials with lids
  • 4-6 different types of dried beans and/or peas
  • Waterproof marker
  • Metric ruler
  • Glue


  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density

Informal Categories

  • Gardening


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, COSI Columbus, 2009