In this experiment you can take a closer look into a secret world and observe the growth of a root that is normally hidden under the surface of the earth. You can record your observations with a flipbook or on video.
Let's go - have fun!
Why do roots have hair? Are earthworms underground giants?
Can the soil help us to protect the climate? And how is soil formed after all?
Below you will find additional information about the hidden soil worlds
and links to information material that we found online on the topic!
Suitable for age group: about 6-14 years
Especially interesting for: Everyone who enjoys a long-term project and would like to observe and document a change over two to three weeks
Preparation time: about 20 min + several weeks
(watering and observations)
Plant seeds (e.g. radish or cress)
An empty jar or bottle with a wide opening
A small bowl
A rubber band
You can collect the required soil or earth with a small shovel from the garden, from a meadow or from the forest.
Step 1: Get ready
First of all, get all materials ready on your table. Open the jam jar or glass bottle and put the lid aside, since we don't need it.
Step 2: Plant seeds
Fill the jar to approx. ¾ with the soil and moisten the earth slightly. Make sure that the ground is not too wet.
There should be no water at the bottom of the jar.
Now you can take two or three of the seeds and place them directly on the edge of the glass. Mark the spot with a toothpick so that you can find it again later.
Cover the seeds with some soil and keep them slightly moist for the next weeks.
Step 3: Cover the jar
Cut off a piece of the aluminum foil. The piece should be as wide as your glass is high so that it can cover the whole surface. Wrap the strip once around the glass and fix it with the rubber band.
Roots always grow straight downwards. So if the jar were to stand normally, we would not be able to see the roots properly. But we trick them! Because the jar is tilted, the root hits the side wall. It cannot grow through the side wall, so it grows down along the wall and we can watch it.
Step 5: Observe
Now you can lean back, relax and observe your root window. If the soil feels dry, you should give your plant some water. Every one or two days, look at what has changed and how the roots have grown.
The first few days:
During the first few days your seeds will absorb moisture from the environment and swell. This will activate them and germination will begin. First the roots will form, then you can see a small stem that breaks through the surface of the earth that has small leaves.
Step 6: Flipbook or Photo documentation
If you want to record your observations, you can draw a flipbook on how the roots change over time.
Hold the paper or foil to your glass and draw the roots. Repeat this step regularly so that you have several drawings of different root lengths. You can now staple them together in the correct order, i.e. the first drawing at the top and the last one at the bottom. If you now scroll through the drawings with your finger, you can see the change as if in time-lapse.
Alternatively, you can also take photos with a camera or cell phone and combine them with a computer program (e.g. Kizoa or Animoto) to a short film or slide show. Here you have the possibility to personalize the video with cool effects and transitions.
If you want to dig deeper and can't get enough of the underground worlds, you' ve come to the right place.
The root of your plant is covered with tiny hairs, the so-called root hairs. With the help of these small hairs, the plant has a larger surface area around the root and can better absorb water and nutrients.
Earthworms are true giants in their habitat! Even though the useful worms may seem small to us humans, they are huge compared to other soil animals: While you could still see springtails and threadworms with the naked eye, you can only observe waterbears or ciliates with a microscope.
To get to the bottom of this question, we need to dig deeper, because at some point we will come across a layer of rock beneath the soil layer. Our soils were formed from this rock through weathering over millions of years. Depending on the original rock, age of the soil and climate, very different soil types can arise, for example brown soil, black soil or podsol. This is a really exciting field of research because physics, chemistry, biology and geology come together here!
Just as trees, soils can store greenhouse gases, too. They bind a lot of carbon, especially if they contain a lot of humus. Gigantic amounts of greenhouse gases are also stored in moors. Therefore, when buying potting soil, you should make sure that it does not contain peat, because the decomposition of peat damages our moors and is therefore bad for the climate!
Soil is one of nature’s most complex ecosystems and one of the most diverse habitats on earth: it contains a myriad of different organisms, which interact and contribute to the global cycles that make all life possible. Nowhere in nature are species so densely packed as in soil communities.
So... do plants need dirt? The truth might shock you. In this episode of Crash Course kids, Sabrina talks about how plants get energy and how that energy is transported around them. Also, she talks about dirt.
© Crash Course Kids
Climate change has a major impact on soil, and changes in land use and soil can either accelerate or slow down climate change. The answer might lie in preserving and restoring key ecosystems and letting nature capture carbon from the atmosphere.
© European Environment Agency
Often referred to as the gardener's best friend, earthworms provide a huge range of highly important ecosystem services. Yet we know very little about them. Find out how you can help!
© Eco Sapien
Created by Kim Schmitz
Menzinger Str. 67
80638 München, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 178 61-411
Phone: +49 (0)89 178 61-422
© Naturkundemuseum Bayern