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OBSERVE ROOT GROWTH RELATIVE TO WATER

A.

Let's find out what the relationship is between roots and
water. We'll use a shallow box half-full of potting soil
and two clay plant pots with their holes plugged with oil-
based clay. The pots are set in the corners of the boxes,
catty-corner from each other. It is important to use clay
pots because they are porous. What does porous mean?

You can plant some seeds in the soil in the box--be sure
to get seeds planted evenly across the box, using all the
soil-space. Radishes or alfalfa are good for this
experiment, because they grow so fast. The potting soil is
dry. We're going to fill one plant pot with water, and the
other pot will be empty. We will not water the soil at all.
Let's watch the pot with water, and if it gets empty, it has
to be filled again. After several days, we will see some
green peeking up above the soil.

Where will the green be? Which seeds will germinate first,
and where will we see the plant start growing? Do you think
seeds germinate best near the water, or far from it? How do
we know if they do better near the water? How do the roots
get water? We haven't put any water on top of the soil or
directly onto the little stems. Do the roots use the water,
and send it to the stems? How do the roots get it?

After two weeks or so, we're going to take out the pots
and see what it looks like in the soil next to the pots.
Willthere be a bunch of roots by the water pot and none by
the dry pot? What does that tell us? Let's take out some of
the plants that are farthest from the water pot, and see how
their roots grew. Do you think they would grow toward the
water pot?

B.

We could put one pot into the center of a box of potting
soil, then plant seeds throughout the soil, and fill the
pot with water. We could see where the plants grow first and
best.

C.

If we want, we can soak some seeds overnight, then plant
them in potting soil right next to the side of an aquarium.
Into one corner of the aquarium, we would put a clay pot,
with the hole plugged, and keep it filled with water. We
could watch the soil to see how far from the pot the water is
absorbed, and watch the root growth after the seeds
germinate.


 
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