Examining Pinecones in Lower Elementary


Lower Elementary students are studying seeds this week in Science, and specifically, since there is an abundance of them in the outdoor classroom, pinecones. They are investigating the conditions under which pinecones “open” and “close” their scales. To make an experiment out of this question, we put three pinecones in three glasses: one glass with no water, one glass with warm water, and one glass with cold water.

After waiting a day and revisiting the glasses, students discovered that the pinecones that were in water had closed up their scales. This made it much harder to break the scales away from the pinecones. The warm water turned a greenish-brown color after the pinecone sat overnight, and while this wasn’t an intended outcome of the experiment, students hypothesized that the pinecone might have had some sap on it, and the warmth of the water drew it out.

Kris discussed the results of the experiment with the class as a whole, noting that when pinecones are damp or cold, their scales close up, protecting the seed; but when pinecones are dry, their scales open, allowing the seed to establish and grow under the right conditions.

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