Conkers!

Investigating plants: seeds and seed dispersal

It’s the perfect time of year to be collecting conkers, finding seeds, thinking about seed dispersal and observing seasonal changes. There’s so much science to be found outside at this time of year! Whether you have a huge rural space or your children walk past a tiny urban park on their way to school, there are so many opportunities to be had.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Collect a whole host of different seeds: group them; observe them; draw them; think about them; how do they work? What happens next? How do they get to where they need to be? Do they use the wind? Do they use animals?
  • What are seeds? How do plants reproduce?
  • Explore how the seeds might be designed eg. sycamore seeds, aerodynamics etc, make your own paper helicopters; which designs work best? What happens if you make the ‘wings’ bigger/smaller?
  • Explore how animals might be involved, link to food chains, nutrition, healthy eating, digestion, characteristics of living things. 
  • What is fruit? Does it contain seeds? Why? What happens to the seeds? Who eats it? You could investigate transit of ‘seeds’ through the digestive system using sweetcorn – and time how long it takes to re-appear 😉
  • Do bigger apples contain more seeds? How could you find out? Pattern seeking
  • What about changing states? What happens when you cook fruit? Make jam – what changes can you observe?
  • What’s eating the pine cones? What else do squirrels eat? Do squirrels really stash food for the winter? Do they find it again? 
  • Play conkers – could you investigate what makes the best conker? Biggest? Smallest? What about ‘traditional’ treatments such as soaking in water or vinegar or baking? Do these help to make it harder? How could you test it? (Hint: they harden as they dry out, but also become more brittle so can shatter. Always take safety precautions eg. goggles. Fresh conkers have a waxy cushion layer to help protect them as they fall from trees)

Check out these links to find even more fruit and seed information, activities and resources:

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives/blogs/nature-detectives-blog/2017/08/identify-fruits-and-seeds/

www.science-sparks.com/how-strong-is-a-conker/

https://www.saps.org.uk/primary/teaching-resources/223

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