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DISSECTING SEEDS

Today we will dissect (cut open) some seeds which we have
soaked overnight. There are mainly two classes (different
types) of seeds: those which divide into two parts, and those
which do not. Beans, peas, and peanuts are some of the seeds
that divide in half, and they are called "dicotyledons"
(pronounced "die-cot-i-lee-don" --say the "lee" part of the
word hardest, which is called accenting). Corn, oats, and
coconuts are some of the seeds that do not divide in half.
They are called "monocotyledons" (pronounced "mon-no-cot-i-
lee-dons").

First we will examine some dicotyledons. We have soaked some
lima bean seeds overnight, and now we'll put them onto paper
towels or paper plates, so the parts will not get lost. When
beans have soaked overnight, their skins get wrinkly. That
skin is called "seed coat", and we are going to take it off
the bean. We'll use a pin or a toothpick (or dissecting
needle if we have one), and peel the seed coat off, and put
it down onto the paper. See how thin it is! Even though it
is very thin and delicate, it protects the seed, and helps
hold the halves together. Now that the seed coat is off, we
will gently pry at the seam and let the seed divide into its
two parts. Each part is called a "cotyledon" (pronounced
"cot-i-lee-don).

After the seed is divided, you can see a tiny plant inside.
This tiny plant is called the "embryo" (pronounced "em-bree-
o"). Get a magnifying glass and look closely at the embryo.
You can see the root, the stem, and the leaves of the embryo.
It really is a very tiny plant!

If you open a peanut shell and take out one peanut, you will
see that it has a brown seed coat, and that when you take off
the seed coat, the peanut divides into two parts. In the
middle of the two parts, you will see the embryo. The embryo
usually sticks to just one of the two parts, and you will see
a dent in the other part of the peanut where the embryo was
growing. You don't need to soak a peanut in order to divide
it easily.

Now we will examine some monocotyledons. We have soaked corn
seeds overnight, and, after putting them on paper towels or
paper plates, we will remove the seed coat. The seed coat on
corn is a little stronger than the seed coat on lima beans.
We'll have to use a sharp pin. Be careful not to poke your
finger!

After you take off the seed coat, you can see the embryo.
Look at it with the magnifying glass, and see if it looks
like the embryo of lima beans.


 
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