What's in a Watermelon?
Are the seeds in your watermelon playing hide-and-seek? Can plants grow without soil? The plant world offers a cornucopia of mysteries that are ripe for investigation.
On a hot summer day, cold, crisp, and juicy watermelon is one of my favorite treats. Delicious and healthy, watermelon is hard to beat, especially when you also consider the entertainment those big black seeds can provide. That's right, put one in your mouth and spit it as far as you can! Did you know that the current watermelon seed spitting world record is almost 70 feet?
Where Did All of the Seeds Go?
Before you organize a backyard seed-spitting contest, you may want to see if you can find a seeded watermelon. Years ago, every watermelon at the grocery store was full of black seeds, but now, in most U.S. stores, you have a harder time finding watermelons with seeds than without. How can this be? Don't you need seeds to grow more fruit?
That sounds like a great science question for students and families to explore!
Science on the Table and in the Garden
While the science of growing seedless watermelons might be difficult for younger children to understand, there are certainly lots of plant-related science questions that kids of all ages can explore. Whether you are snacking on a piece of fruit or caring for a houseplant, start a conversation about why and how things grow.
Below are a few Science Buddies Project Ideas to get you started.
- How Many Seeds Do Different Types of Fruit Produce?: Cut open a variety of fruits to see how many seeds are hiding inside. This simple project introduces kids to the diversity of the fruits that we eat.
- Size vs. Depth: The Relationship Between the Size of a Seed and Its Ideal Planting Depth: Seed packets tell you how deep to plant seeds, but does it really matter? Plant a variety of seeds at different depths to find out. While you are at it, you can explore the relationship between seed size and planting depth.
- Propagate Plants Without Using Seeds!: Some plants can be grown from cuttings (a piece of a plant) instead of seeds. Discover what promotes fast root growth by placing cuttings in different growth mediums.
- Attack of the Killer Cabbage Clones: Creating an exact replica of an organism isn't just science fiction. Discover the secrets of cloning plants from pieces of plants—no seeds required!
Plant the Seeds for Future Interest in Science
From potatoes to moss, you'll find even more plant-related ideas in Science Buddies' Plant Biology section.
And if you find watermelons with seeds at your local market, you might see how your seed spitting skills compare with the current record!
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