|Explore||We have experimented with and observed many different scenarios to see what factors affect growth. Sunlight, temperature, amount of water, and the impact of soil have all been things we have talked about and considered. Something that we never discussed was if extra organisms in the soil or...|
|Research Question||How do added organisms affect germination rate? We have thought about plants growing outside, and all the organisms that come in contact with a plant everyday naturally, such as worms, insects, and bacteria. We were wondering if these organisms affect plant growth. We will be...|
|Predictions||We are planning to test multiple different organisms, including earth worms, mycorrhiza fungi, and bacteria powder, and comparing them to a plant with no added organisms. There are definitely different possible outcomes for our study, but we predict that the seeds planted with earth worms will...|
|Experimental Design||We have chosen to use 8 different pots of the Bloomingdale Spinach. Each pot has 3 seeds per pot. The seeds were planted 1/2 inch down in the soil. The pots each have 6 Tablespoons of Top Soil. Each plant will be watered once a day, Monday-Friday, with 30mL of water. 2 pots will be our control...|
|Conclusion||After watering, measuring, and recording data about our plants over a period of time, we found results and came to a conclusion. We averaged the heights of the plants and stalks of each category, with the categories being control group, plants with worms in the soil, plants with bacteria added...|
I have uploaded my final project over our growth experiment if you are interested to see how things turned out. Thank you for your help!
Thanks for being out group mentor. Also, thank you for giving us helpful insights.
I really enjoyed working with you all for this project! I have been consistently pleased and impressed with your engagement as well as your well-though out/well-written project information updates. Thank you for sharing the project results and powerpoint slides! I'm enjoying reading up on your findings.
I'm not completely certain how eligibility works, but I nominated this project to be a Star Project. Even if that doesn't become a reality, just know that you all have been one of the best teams I've worked with as a science mentor. Thanks for being a great team!
Thanks again for all of your help with our project! I have also uploaded PowerPoint slides that summarizes the entire project.
Hello Kelly, I just wanted to thank you again for all of the help you gave us and guidance through this entire project. Thank you for mentoring us with our Planting Science Project! I posted my PowerPoint slides regarding the project for you to be able to see the final results.
Looks like you are in the final stages of your projects
It’s great to see that teams from your school are wrapping up and posting conclusions. Enjoy the final stages of your project, and feel free to post any final comments or questions you have for your mentors.
Farewell and Best Wishes
As this research project is now in the final stages of wrapping-up, we wish to thank everyone who participated in this inquiry; the students, mentors, teachers and others behind the scenes. We appreciate all of your efforts and contributions to this online learning community.
Scientific exploration is a process of discovery that can be fun! There are many unanswered questions about plants just waiting for new scientists to consider, investigate, and share.
Please come back and visit the PlantingScience Research Gallery Archive anytime (Found under Community>Projects) to view this project in the future. You can search the Archive by key word, team name, topic, or school name.
Good bye for now.
The PlantingScience team
Thank you for the positive feedback. Yes, we are recording the dates of when the seedlings first emerged. On Monday we will send more pictures of the plants. We want to do this weekly to be able to compare the growth over time. We watered the plants with 60 mL of water today and will recheck them on Friday.
Look forward to hearing back from you.
Thanks for sharing the pictures - they look great! You did a wonderful job with set-up and it seems very well organized. And thanks for the updates...how exciting to see the little seedlings!
Are you recording when (i.e. the date) the seedlings first emerged...that might be interesting information down the line.
30mL sounds like a good amount of water. Based on your pictures it doesn't look like there is too much water pooling up, so it seems like you should be safe from root rot or something similar.
Exciting stuff! I'm looking forward to seeing how the experiment progresses.
We have growth in all of our plants! We have decided that we are going to try to water our plants every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, giving them 30 mL each time. We tried that last week and it seemed to work well. We even had growth in our two plants with worms in them after only 2 days. The experiment is going well so far. Thanks for your help!
Excellent updates! I like how to ranked your predictions, and that you provided some justifications or reasons to support those predictions. And the experimental design sounds fantastic! The experiment is very clear to me...I'm really excited to see what the results are.
Let me know how it goes with the watering. I'm glad to hear you are willing to adjust watering as it's needed. Depending on how quickly the soil drains/the plants grow it may vary quickly. It will also be important to ensure the microbes/earthworms don't dry out!
Thanks for uploading the pictures! Those fungi/bacteria packets look neat...I might just have to experiment with them in the garden :)
Hey Kelly- Today was our planting day! We are still deciding on a few aspects, like how often we need to water. We are going to wait until Wednesday to make our final decisions about watering. Other than that, please see our Experimental Design portion under the info tab for information about our experiment. Thanks!
Thank you for the response and added information! After talking to our professor, we have decided we had too many variables for this experiment since we do not have a lot of time. We are no longer including nematodes, so now we have 3 variables and a control. We have added to our prediction section to include predictions for all variables. Our professor has also clarified that it is fine if we are testing growth instead of germination so that is what we will be studying. We are not sure what size pots we will be using, but we will let you know as soon as we know so that we can talk more on the amount of water to use.
I just looked over your Question/Predictions in the info section. Very well done! The information is extremely well written and is very clear to me. I have a few thoughts for you all to consider moving forward:
1) If you get a chance, I would encourage you to write out predictions for all of the soil amendments. You have a great start with earthworms - I especially like that you reference other research/knowledge supporting your prediction. Hopefully you can get some predictions for everything written out before the experiment.
2) This is more kudos. Excellent note on how you want to control all the variables (i.e. light, soil, water, etc) except for the treatment (soil additives). Controlling the other environments as best you can will really help you be more confident that the differences you're seeing in plant growth are truly due to the treatments and not random environmental variables.
3) How big are the pots you'll be using?
4) I would state that you're using Bloomsdale spinach somewhere on the info page too. And now your team picture is explained :)
5) Watering is always tricky! I did a real quick internet search, and it sounds like this spinach is pretty hardy so it shouldn't be too sensitive to water. Most pages seem to suggest watering regularly, so I imagine giving them a small drink everyday would suffice. Depending on how large the pots are, perhaps 100mL of water a day to start? That way you can control the amount of water each pot receives. Another thought on this front is water requirements for the organisms...it would be interesting if they have different water requirements than the plants...so many avenues to pursue! Here's one of the links I found on growing this spinach variety:
Thanks for getting back to us so soon! We are hoping to log on more actively in the future. Our responses to questions in regards to Explore, Research Questions, Predictions, etc. will be located under the “Info” tab on the project page. We are trying to determine what affects the germination rate of Bloomsdale Spinach. We loved your input of using multiple repetitions of the plants in order to have a more legitimate conclusion at the end of our experiment. So, we have decided to use 2 pots for each of the organisms we are going to compare. We have chosen nematodes, earthworms, garden store bacteria powder (brand will be determined at a later date), and mycorrhizal fungi in addition to the two control pots. We are going to use basic potting soil for each of the plants as well. The potting soil will not have any additional additives. We want to keep all other aspects of the experiment controlled. How much water do you recommend using while watering?
It sounds like you'll be growing radish, lettuce, chard, arugula, peas, and spinach? Again, I would encourage you to do a little research into what types of soil organisms have been discovered to associate with these plants and try to make your selections based on that.
You brought up a very important component to research - a control! Having a plant that has no added organisms is important for comparing the effects of added organisms to the soil, and this is your control. Every successful experiment should have a control, so well done.
Another important aspect of experiments is duplication or repetition. You mention having one plant as the control, but if your resources allow, I would suggest having more than one plant in each treatment. Having more plants, or reps, gives your experiment more power. Assuming you see the same effect on all plants in the treatment, you have a stronger evidence to claim the treatment caused the effects. If you only have one plant per treatment, it could just be a coincidence that that one plant responded to the treatment. Perhaps it is an anomaly within the plant species. Hopefully this makes sense...
What species of plant are you planning to germinate? You can do research on that species to see if work has been done to determine what sort of soil associations it has. But I think worms and mycorrhizal fungi are both great ideas. Another one could be nematodes. I'm not sure how easy that is to obtain, but I remember treating plants with a nematode solution in college. I think I also came across the idea of adding bacteria to the soil a number of months back. If I recall correctly, there are also dried bacterial powders you could purchase from garden stores to boost the amount of beneficial bacteria in the soil.
On that note, it occurs to me that mycorrhizae and bacteria are likely going to already be present in whatever soil you obtain unless you sterilize it first. I'm not sure if you'll be able to go that far with your control, but it is something to keep in mind should the control not show as strong of a difference as you expect. Especially if you go the route of adding bacteria or mycorrhizae.
Thank you for your input and suggestions! You both made very valuable points that got us thinking. After further discussion as a group, we agree that trying to test and make a valid conclusion about having a transitioning period from inside to outside for plants would be too difficult. It would be hard to control and keep this experiment consistent. We have decided we want to explore the impact of adding organisms to the soil, to see if it positively or negatively affects plant growth or if it plays no role. We were thinking it would be interesting to keep all conditions constant, such as light, temperature, and amount of water, and only change the organisms placed within the soil of the plants. We need to research possible organisms to add to the soil, but we are interested in testing the impact of mycorrhizal fungi, worms, and maybe other insects. We will also have a plant with no added organisms so that we can compare the results of the other plants to this plant. Do you have any other suggestions for good organisms to add to our soil besides the mycorrhizal fungi? Do you think this would lead to a successful investigation?
It is wonderful to meet you all! I apologize for my delayed response. I have been interviewing at the University of Utah for graduate school and had frustratingly poor internet connections during my trip. I am currently a research assistant at the University of Georgia where I research stress responses in sunflowers (stresses = water, low nutrients and salt). Throughout my career in plant science thus far I have predominately worked with seedlings...so I should be able to help out when it comes to germination!
I second the great points that Kara mentioned in her post. Your ideas thus far are excellent and interesting! Here are some additional comments/thoughts that might be helpful in forming your research question.
1) My lab group recently reviewed two excellent papers on how to grow plants for research projects. I will send them through this site for you to look at, but hopefully they can provide some more background information on why certain variables (i.e. light, water, etc) are so important for growing plants and what effects might happen when those variables change.
2) In addition to adding worms or bugs to the soil, you might also want to consider fungal associations. Many plants have beneficial relationships with mycorrhizal fungi, and this is something that can also be added directly to the soil. I bought some mycorrhizal fungi powder from a garden store for my Master's research. I was working with Douglas-fir seedlings which are very dependent on these mycorrhizal associations, so I added the powder to ensure they grew!
3) In my research with sunflowers, we stress the plants a lot. Another interesting component to a soil-type project are nutrients. Again, those papers I will send mention the importance of micro- and macro-nutrients to plants and the amount of nutrients can be varied easily. Osmocote, a popular plant fertilizer brand, can be bought at garden stores too and would allow you to control nutrient availability to your seedlings.
Obviously, there are countless interesting topics to research with plants! But a large component to research projects is feasibility. For your project, think of the resources and budget that are available to you. For instance, worms might be expensive, or you might not be able to collect enough of them. It would be frustrating to write the project and then realize you couldn't do it once you got started. Keep these things in mind, in addition to the types of measurements you'll make, as you plan your research question.
Off to a great start, team! I'm happy to follow up on any of these suggestions, and of course am available to bounce more ideas off of. I should be quicker to respond now that I am back home.
I'm your liaison, Kara. I step into groups every once and a while to see what is going on and provide feedback as needed. I am a Biology PhD student at Illinois State University, but my research is focused in STEM education. I love plants and was ordering my plants for this year just yesterday! I have a veggie garden and a couple flower beds that I am reorganizing.
I think both of your ideas are interesting. So a few things to start thinking about, I've broken them up by idea.
1) So you have found some research that suggests moving plants inside and outside to help with the transition. There are a lot of variables in that idea. I would look into the paper you found and to find out why they felt this was beneficial. I think it would be fascinating to explore, but I feel like you guys may need a little more background knowledge before building your questions and hypothesis.
2) Your second idea is a little more straightforward. There are many different variables you can explore, but they are easier to control. Once again, how will you choose the bug/worm/quantity/etc. You may need a little more background knowledge.
3) Finally, I think it is important that you think about how you will measure what you are looking for (this is for both questions). When you move plants to the cold, how will you know they transitioned well? When your seeds start to germinate, how will you measure growth?
4) Once you have chosen a topic, it is time to write your question. The research question will help determine your procedures.
Hope that helps you think about the research direction. As I said before, both are interesting!
Hi Kelly, we are looking forward to collaborating with you on this project. Our professor suggested we research some ideas that we would like to explore during this germination, and share them with you to see what you think. Our first idea is to gradually move seedlings outside, where we will slowly introduce the seeds to the wind and cold weather outside. Research suggests to have a transitioning period of about a week where the plants spend time inside and outside. Our second idea is if it would be beneficial to include some sort of bug or worm in the soil to help our plants grow. Let us know what you think, can't wait to hear back from you soon.
My name is Elizabeth and I am also in Biology 3450! I am also excited to collaborate on our germination project. Our team member, Erica will be posting a few ideas we would like to bounce off you in regards to seed germination.
My name is Hannah. I'm taking BIO 3450 this semester. I am looking forward to our group being able to work with you on this germination project!
My name is Nikki, I am in Biology 3450 for education. I am excited to collaborate with you on our germination project!
I am happy to welcome you to this community of plant researchers. Your team has the opportunity to be mentored by a scientist to help you develop and perform your own research project. The mentor's role is to encourage and guide you through the scientific process of discovery. The more you share your ideas and research information online, the more your mentor can help.
Please introduce yourself and post some possible research topic ideas to get a conversation rolling.
These resources are available to help you get started:
Best wishes as you start this scientific journey. We are all pleased to share this experience with you. Have fun!
Sincerely, The PlantingScience team