Spring! What an exciting time of year. And as we watch our little ones grow and flourish before our eyes we also have the privilege of seeing the world around us do the same. So to celebrate the science behind the wonder here is an easy and reliable ‘how things grow’ experience for even the smallest of biologists.
You will need:
- Hyacinth bulb (or bulbs)
- Small vase
Yes, that’s all! Simply fill the vase to the point where it narrows and place the bulb on top. It is important that the bulb isn’t sitting IN water so leave a little gap between the bottom of the bulb and the surface of the water.
If you don’t have a suitable vase you can chop off the top of a bottle and flip it over like this. Bulbs should be available at your local nursery or you can order some here. (I have no affiliation other than ‘happy customer!’)
NOTE: Hyacinths are quite hardy and will grow even with very little sunlight, so this experiment can be done inside or out.
Roots and all
The biology basics (0+)
This experiment is ideal from birth onward. Yep. Birth. Every word you speak to your child and everything they see is a little drop in the memory bank just waiting to be converted to vocabulary or reinforced as a concept. And you’ll end up with some stunning flowers for your home or school, so why not!
By following the directions above and checking in each day to investigate changes you are encouraging an understanding of how plants grow as well as creating a wonderful platform for child-driven investigation (if they begin checking on the flower themselves) Of course the whole experience, as always, is a great way to stimulate discussion and build vocabulary as well as communication and concept development skills.
We often take for granted that children understand the concepts behind everyday phenomenon. For example, that a tree is held fast by roots. But for little ones who have never seen one uprooted, these every day facts remain a mystery until their foundation knowledge is filled in by experience. The hyacinth experiment allows children to witness and follow the progress of:
- The growth of the plant above “ground”
- The development of roots below “ground” and the way they seek water
- The absorption of water needed for growth (by seeing the water level decline)
How does your garden grow?
Experimenting with the essentials (age 3+)
For intrepid scientists, you can add controls and other conditions to compare results. we recommend:
- a vase with no water (in the light)
- a vase with no light (in water)
- a vase with no water and no light
- a vase with both water and light
It is VERY IMPORTANT that the “no light” conditions really are in pitch black. Hyacinths are tough little flowers and they will try to bloom with any small thing you give them!
It is also important to make the experiment accessible without adult interaction during the growing process. We want those little minds ticking of their own accord!
You can do this by printing these FREE image cards and labelling each vase.
A measurement experience (age 4+)
Paired with all the science and investigation value of the original experiment, you can add maths into the equation. Measure the original water amount and record it. Every third day, use a whiteboard marker to draw the water level and write the date. The Hyacinth should extend its roots deeper and deeper to follow the water meaning you shouldn’t need to top up. At the end of the experiment, tip the water into a measuring vessel and record how “thirsty” your hyacinth was.
We would love to hear about any other variations you make to the experiment!
Some ideas are:
- using vinegar instead of water
- measuring the height of the bloom at intervals
- measuring the depth of the roots at intervals
- guessing competitions (on colour, height, growth etc. Also known as hypotheses!)