Seeking the Light

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by

Photo by WordSwag

Plants need light: an experiment for children ages 7 and up (or younger with the help of an adult). This experiment will teach a child that plants need sunlight to grow. Plants use a process call photosynthesis to make their own food. Photosynthesis is using energy from the make sun to make sugars out of carbon dioxide and water. In the following experiment, you will see the process of phototropism, how the plant will twist and turn to reach towards the light.

  • Supplies:
    • shoe box
    • potted runner bean
    • sharp knife or scissors
    • 2 extra cardboard pieces
    • tape
  • Place a shoe box on its side so that it’s top sits vertical. Cut a rectangular opening in what is now the top of the box.
  • Prepare two extra pieces of cardboard by cutting them half the width and the same height as the shoe box.
  • Divide the box in thirds by taping one cut cardboard piece on the left side of the box at the one-third mark. Next, tape the other cardboard piece on the right side of the box at the two-thirds mark.
  • Place a potted runner bean in the bottom left of the box, directly under the first cardboard piece.
  • Put the cover back on the box and keep the plant moist in a warm place. Water and observe regularly.
  • Watch as the shoot changes direction in order to pass through the second hole. It will eventually grow through the hole at the top of the box as it searches for the light. The plant is persistent and determined to get to the light.
  • If desired, take this opportunity to talk about how we can search for the light, even as obstacles seem to stand in our way.

*This experiment was found in the book How Does Your Garden Grow?: Be Your Own Plant Expert by Dominique and Philippe Joly.