Get ready for spring with this sprout-able paper engineering project.
Using a blender and paper scraps to create pulp, your child can add seeds and sculpt living art. Once the decorated discs are dry, they can be planted in flower pots, or directly in the garden.
- Wildflower or herb seeds
- Paper (Inexpensive heavy-weight paper, like white construction paper or watercolor paper works well. You can recycle paper too, as long as it doesn’t contain too much ink.)
- Window screen
- Jar lids from canning jars
- Flower petals or small leaves (optional)
Safety Tips and Hints
Adult supervision recommended when using blender and paper shredder. Dry wildflower paper completely and do not seal it in plastic bags, or it may sprout and mold.
What to Do
Step 1: Help your child shred the paper into small pieces by hand, with scissors, or using a paper shredder.
Step 2: Let your young scientist fill a bowl with water and soak the paper in water for at least 30 minutes.
Step 3: Use a large spoon to transfer the pre-soaked paper into a blender. Let your child turn the blender on and blend the paper to a smooth pulp. Add water if the paper seems too dry.
Step 4: Remove the pulp from the blender and ask your young learner to stir in some of the wildflower seeds. Save a few for decoration.
Step 5: Let your child arrange the jar lid rings on a screen, top down. Put newspaper under the screen to catch drips, if needed.
Step 6: Press the paper pulp into the lids, so that it is around ½ inch thick. Remind your child that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Step 7: Encourage your young artist to add extra seeds and petals to the damp pulp as decoration.
Step 8: Allow the paper discs to dry and then help your child remove them from the jar lids
Step 9: Punch holes in the paper if you’d like to use them as gift tags.
Step 10: Plant the discs in pots or directly in the garden by having your child place them on loosened soil. Let your child water the seeds as needed and check their progress every day.
Use cookie cutters instead of jar lids to create interesting shapes.
Use wildflower paper to create living designs in a garden.
Give your child a garden journal so they can tape in photographs they take and chart the growth of the seeds.
The STEAM Behind the Fun
Seeds are dormant, or sleeping, baby plants. They’re covered by a protective outer coat that helps keep them safe until they’re ready to sprout and are on the lookout for signals that it’s time to start growing. These signals include moisture, heat, and light.
Seeds contain the food needed to nourish the first shoots and leaves. When a plant starts to grow, the seed shrinks as the baby plant uses the energy inside it. With luck, the roots it sends out will find a good place to anchor the growing plant and find water and nutrients.
The paper in this experiment protects the seeds and keeps them dry. When you plant them, it forms a nice nursery for the baby plants, because it holds in moisture and provides firm footing, allowing the first roots to take hold.
You can find more experiments like this one at kitchenpantryscientist.com, and in my books Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books), Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books), and my upcoming book STEAM Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Projects Exploring Science, Technology, Art and Math (Quarry Books, spring 2018).
© Quarry Books, 2018/STEAM Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Projects Exploring Science, Technology, Art and Math
Photos: © Quarry Books