Extreme Science With Radical Rick: Germinating Seeds With Orbies - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Extreme Science With Radical Rick: Germinating Seeds With Orbies

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What you will need:
  1. Various seeds of your choice
  2. Tweezers (pointy tweezers work the best)
  3. Polyacrylamide spheres, otherwise known as orbies or jelly marbles
  4. Small container(s)
  5. Water
  6. Adult supervision

Procedure:

1) You will first need to “grow” your orbies in water. Orbies are actually polyacrylamide spheres which start out as small hard beads that look and feel like hard plastic. When placed in a glass of water, they will absorb the water causing them to grow up to 300 times their original size. They will also soften up as they grow and become very fragile. It takes about 24 hours for the orbies to fully grow.

2) Once the orbies are fully “grown” carefully place a seed in the middle of each orbie using your tweezers.

3) Once your seed are inside of the orbies, place your orbies in a warm spot and watch as your seeds begin to germinate and sprout. Depending on what type of seed you choose, you will most likely find that some will germinate faster than others. If you purchased your seeds, check on the package to see how long the germination period is for each. If you harvested your seeds yourself, you can find the information online but check with your parents first.

4) Once your seeds have properly germinated, you may plant them with the Orbie.

What is going on?

The following is copied directly from Wikipedia.

Hey, there was no reason for me to say the same thing in my own words when they already explained it extremely well here. So yes, Wikipedia gets the credit for this one.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germination)

Germination is the growth of an embryonic plant contained within a seed; it results in the formation of the seedling. The seed of a vascular plant is a small package produced in a fruit or cone after the union of male and female sex cells. All fully developed seeds contain an embryo and, in most plant species some store of food reserves, wrapped in a seed coat. Some plants produce varying numbers of seeds that lack embryos; these are called empty seeds[1] and never germinate. Most seeds go through a period of dormancy where there is no active growth; during this time the seed can be safely transported to a new location and/or survive adverse climate conditions until circumstances are favorable for growth. Dormant seeds are ripe seeds that do not germinate because they are subject to external environmental conditions that prevent the initiation of metabolic processes and cell growth. Under proper conditions, the seed begins to germinate and the embryonic tissues resume growth, developing towards a seedling.

Seed germination depends on both internal and external conditions. The most important external factors include temperature, water, oxygen and sometimes light or darkness.[2] Various plants require different variables for successful seed germination. Often this depends on the individual seed variety and is closely linked to the ecological conditions of a plant's natural habitat. For some seeds, their future germination response is affected by environmental conditions during seed formation; most often these responses are types of seed dormancy.

  • Water is required for germination. Mature seeds are often extremely dry and need to take in significant amounts of water, relative to the dry weight of the seed, before cellular metabolism and growth can resume. Most seeds need enough water to moisten the seeds but not enough to soak them. The uptake of water by seeds is called imbibition, which leads to the swelling and the breaking of the seed coat. When seeds are formed, most plants store a food reserve with the seed, such as starch, proteins, or oils. This food reserve provides nourishment to the growing embryo. When the seed imbibes water, hydrolytic enzymes are activated which break down these stored food resources into metabolically useful chemicals.[2] After the seedling emerges from the seed coat and starts growing roots and leaves, the seedling's food reserves are typically exhausted; at this point photosynthesis provides the energy needed for continued growth and the seedling now requires a continuous supply of water, nutrients, and light.
  • Oxygen is required by the germinating seed for metabolism.[3] Oxygen is used in aerobic respiration, the main source of the seedling's energy until it grows leaves.[2] Oxygen is an atmospheric gas that is found in soil pore spaces; if a seed is buried too deeply within the soil or the soil is waterlogged, the seed can be oxygen starved. Some seeds have impermeable seed coats that prevent oxygen from entering the seed, causing a type of physical dormancy which is broken when the seed coat is worn away enough to allow gas exchange and water uptake from the environment.
  • Temperature affects cellular metabolic and growth rates. Seeds from different species and even seeds from the same plant germinate over a wide range of temperatures. Seeds often have a temperature range within which they will germinate, and they will not do so above or below this range. Many seeds germinate at temperatures slightly above 60-75 F (16-24 C) [room-temperature if you live in a centrally heated house], while others germinate just above freezing and others germinate only in response to alternations in temperature between warm and cool. Some seeds germinate when the soil is cool 28-40 F (-2 - 4 C), and some when the soil is warm 76-90 F (24-32 C). Some seeds require exposure to cold temperatures (vernalization) to break dormancy. Seeds in a dormant state will not germinate even if conditions are favorable. Seeds that are dependent on temperature to end dormancy have a type of physiological dormancy. For example, seeds requiring the cold of winter are inhibited from germinating until they take in water in the fall and experience cooler temperatures. Four degrees Celsius is cool enough to end dormancy for most cool dormant seeds, but some groups, especially within the family Ranunculaceae and others, need conditions cooler than -5 C. Some seeds will only germinate after hot temperatures during a forest fire which cracks their seed coats; this is a type of physical dormancy.
Most common annual vegetables have optimal germination temperatures between 75-90 F (24-32 C), though many species (e.g. radishes or spinach) can germinate at significantly lower temperatures, as low as 40 F (4 C), thus allowing them to be grown from seed in cooler climates. Suboptimal temperatures lead to lower success rates and longer germination periods.
  • Light or darkness can be an environmental trigger for germination and is a type of physiological dormancy. Most seeds are not affected by light or darkness, but many seeds, including species found in forest settings, will not germinate until an opening in the canopy allows sufficient light for growth of the seedling.[2]
Scarification mimics natural processes that weaken the seed coat before germination. In nature, some seeds require particular conditions to germinate, such as the heat of a fire (e.g., many Australian native plants), or soaking in a body of water for a long period of time. Others need to be passed through an animal's digestive tract to weaken the seed coat enough to allow the seedling to emerge.[2]

Try this:

Try placing similar seeds into various orbies, then placing the seeded orbies into various environmental conditions such as placing one in a warm area vs. another into a cold area. You may also try placing one in a well-lit area vs. a dark location. Track the differences and how much you can influence the germination process once you have placed your seeds into the orbies.

Radical Rick
Extreme Science
http://    www.ExtremeScienceFun.com

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