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Science Week!

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2015 is the UN-declared International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL). It is a world-wide celebration of the importance of light and optical technologies to the development of society. As such, the theme for this year’s National Science Week in schools is Making waves: the science of light, providing the backdrop for a myriad of learning opportunities for our youngest budding scientists!

But amongst the flurry of torches, light boxes and laser beam technologies, take a moment to get back to basics with your children, and celebrate the main source of light and life on earth, our sun. Who knows where your discussions will take you? You may find yourself exploring the wonders of; the changing seasons, renewable energy, time, our solar system, animal migration or the water cycle…

Understanding the importance of the sun for our plant’s growth and survival will also be a key learning point as children learn to care and nurture their gardens. Perhaps start with a discussion about what children think is important for humans to live and grow, and then talk about what they think a plant needs? The idea of photosynthesis could be explained as plants “making food from light” but will still be quite an abstract concept, so why not “get your science on” and conduct an experiment to illustrate this idea?

A fast growing vegetable plant like a radish will be an ideal subject to test the effects of different light conditions on a growing seed, and when harvested will provide a really interesting sensory experience with its unique peppery taste. Radishes are best planted at soil temperatures between 8°C and 30°C, so for most parts of Australia any time is a good time to plant!

Experiment: Do radish plants grow differently in depending on exposure to light?

You will need;

  • 5 small pots (recycled take away drink or food containers will work fine providing they have a decent depth, just be sure to make some drainage holes in the bottom)
  • Radish seeds and soil

 

Method:

  1. fill each container until about 2 cm from top with soil, water and drain (you may need to add a little more if the soil settles)
  2. plant around 8 seeds in each pot, covering with soil (approx. 0.5 – 1 cm) and water in lightly
  3. Keep all pots in a sunny position, water lightly every day, and you should see the seedlings popping through in a bout 3-5 days!
  4. On the day the seedlings sprout, move each pot to a different location with varying light conditions (windowsill, full sun, part sun, in a box with no sun etc)
  • TIP: Number the pots so you can match them to their location just in case they “go for a walk”!
  1. Continue to care for each pot, and get the children to take regular comparative observations of their growth (you could have a diary for each pot, and include measurements, photos, illustrations, children’s comments etc).
  • TIP: why not plant a “control group” in an ideal position in your garden? Your seeds here need to be planted be about 3-5cms apart, and you should have a crop of radishes to compare with your potted “experiment plants” in approximately 3-5 weeks! This will also allow you to discuss space allowances for the seeds and how this may have affected the growth/survival of your experimental plants.

We hope you come up with some interesting results with your experiments, Celebrate light, and take a moment to soak in the last of that glorious winter sun!

From the team at Chippendale Long Day Care.

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