Gone with the Wind: Plant Seed Dispersal
Gist Biological Plants Evolution AerodynamicsIntroduce Have you ever looked outside on a windy day and seen “helicopter” seeds spinning in the air? Or pick up a dandelion and blow on it, making the tiny seeds fly all over the place? Wind is important for dispersing seeds to help plants reproduce. In this project, you’ll design some of your own “seeds” and see which perform best when they’re blown around the room by a fan. Read: why seed dispersal is important.Story Seed dispersal is very important for the survival of plant species. If plants grow too close together, they will have to compete for light, water and nutrients from the soil. Seed dispersal allows plants to spread over a wide area and avoid competing with each other for the same resources. Seeds are dispersed in different ways. In some plants, the seeds are placed in the fruit (such as an apple or an orange). These fruits, including the seeds, are eaten by animals, which then disperse the seeds when they defecate. Some fruits can be carried with water, such as a floating coconut. Some beads have small hooks that can stick to animal fur coats. (You might have gotten them on your clothes if you’ve ever hiked in the woods or tall grass.) Read more: why is my ex-girlfriend still contacting me | Q & AOther seeds are dispersed by the wind – such as “winged” seeds from a maple that spin and “fly straight” through the air as they fall, or lightly feathered seeds from a dandelion that can be caught in the wind light. The longer the seed stays in the air, the farther it can be blown away by the wind, helping the plant species to widely disperse its offspring. In this project, you will make your own artificial “seeds” from craft materials. Can you design seeds that will stay in the air for a long time?Material
- Examples of different types of seeds dispersed by the wind (Depending on where you live, you may find some of these seeds outside. If you have Internet access, you can also do a search. Search the Web for maple, dandelion, and other wind-dispersed seeds to help you get an idea.)
- Small, even, light objects that you can use as “seeds” (For example, you can use small paper clips or small paper clips; or buy a bag of real seeds — such as sunflower seeds — at supermarket.)
- Craft supplies to build your seed dispersal mechanism (They can be as simple as paper and tape or you can also use things like a transmitter, cotton balls, or even items you found outside, such as blades of grass.)
- Scissors, tape, and glue to cut and attach your crafting supplies to your seed (Be careful when using scissors.)
- Window or large box fans (Use with caution and with appropriate supervision.)
- Stopwatch or timer (optional)
- Ruler or ruler (optional)
- Clear an empty area of the room where you will be performing the seed check.
- Place the fan on a table or chair, facing across the room. You can also do the experiment outside on a windy day.
- Design and build several — at least four — scatter mechanisms for your seed. Works best if you can create at least two similar distributed mechanisms to test each other (see example below). You can use your imagination and come up with your own ideas, but here are a few ideas to get you started (using a paperclip as the “seed” example):
- Attach the paper clip to a small, square piece of paper the size of a notepad, without altering the paper.
- Attach the paper clip to another small piece of paper, but make a few parallel cuts on one side of the paper to make it “corrugated” and bend them outward.
- Attach the paper clip to the cotton pad.
- Attach a paper clip to a cotton ball that you pulled in to expand it a bit and make it softer.
- Cut some paper in the shape of a maple seed and attach a paper clip.
- Which particle dispersal mechanism or mechanism do you think will go the furthest when dropped in front of the fan? Why?
- Turn on the fan. Standing in the same position, try dropping the beads one by one in front of the fan. Alternatively, try dropping a simple “seed” (for example, a regular paperclip with nothing attached) to see what happens.
- How can the beads be blown by the fan? Do some seeds take longer to reach the ground than others?
- Think about your results. Are some of your designs not working (falling straight down, not blowing forward)? Some work better than others? What can you do to improve your design? Can you change your seeds to make them fly further?
- More: Ask a friend to use a stopwatch to see how long it takes for the seeds to fall to the ground. This can be easier if you drop the seed from a higher position. (Have an adult drop them, carefully standing on a chair, or drop them from the top of the stairs.)
- More: Use a tape measure to record the distance the seeds travel horizontally from where you drop them to where they hit the ground. Which county goes the furthest?
- More: How do your results change if you change the fan speed?
Read more: Why are French Bulldogs so expensive Observations and resultsYou should find that adding lightweight materials to the “seed” can make it fall slower and blow farther — however, the shape of the material is also important. For example, a paper clip attached to a crumpled piece of paper will still fall very quickly. However, a piece of paper with a “wing” design (similar to a maple seed) or a cluster of individual flower clusters (such as a dandelion seed), will fall more slowly and be blown farther by the fan. The exact distance of blow particles will depend on the power of the fan, but you will certainly see a difference in the horizontal distance between the “smooth” and the dispersed particles. When you take your best designs and try to improve them, you mimic the process of evolution — because the “best” seed designs in nature are the ones that are the most reproducible. !More to discover Gone with the Wind: An Experiment in Seed and Fruit Dispersal, from Science Buddies Sailing Seeds: An Experiment in Wind Dispersal, the original project of the American Botanical Society Create a Rotary Bird from Paper, from American Science Activity for All Ages!, from Science Buddies This activity brings you a partnership with Science BuddiesRead more: why do people put fruit in their stories | Top Q&A
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