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Family STEAM Challenge: Sprout House

The sun is shining more, the temperatures are starting to rise and the puddles are starting to form. That means things are starting to grow! Let’s jump start the season by doing some easy growing INSIDE!

This Issue’s Steam Topic:

Exploring and observing the science of growing plants without soil, inside. 

The Mission:

Use your scientific and detective skills to figure out how the plants can survive without soil and being inside.  

The Challenge: 

Make a hypothesis (an educated guess) on whether or not you think the seeds will grow without soil. How will they survive? Can you create a house out of the sponges and to make the plants grow on the roof?

Materials you could use (but are not limited to): 

• 4 plain sponges
• Scissors
• Toothpicks
• Hot glue gun (optional but makes construction quick)
• Plate
• Seeds (wheat berries, chia, or alfalfa sprout quickly)
• Water

Incorporating the Arts: 

This challenge is very open-ended as it can be applied anywhere there is sun! First you need to make a base. Take one of your sponges and make that the base of the house. Next you can cut a sponge in half to make the walls of the house. You will put these perpendicular to the base sponge and secure them with the hot glue gun and the toothpicks. Take another sponge and cut it in half as well to make the other walls and secure them the same way. Take the final sponge and cut it in half, too, and place it diagonally on top of the walls to create a slanted roof. (This can be done however your kiddos want to create their house or something other than a house – whatever their creative mind imagines!)

Now cover the entire house and base with seeds. You can put different kinds of seeds on different parts of the house to see the differences in how they grow. Pour water onto the plate that your house is built on and let the sponges absorb it. You can also spray or sprinkle water over the roof, but be aware to not knock off all of your seeds. Place your plant in the sun and water your house one or two times a day for best results. Watch as your plants grow! 

Questions to Mull Over: 

• Can you see their roots growing?

• What does a plant need to survive?

• Does more water or less water help them grow?

• If you forget to water them, what happens to them?

• If you grew different seeds on different parts of your house, how are they growing differently?

• What if it wasn’t in the sun?

• Does it grow better in warm or cold?

• How does that relate to the seasons?

Thank you to Sarah McInnis, education coordinator at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, for making this STEAM challenge possible.

The Family STEAM Challenge is all about experimenting with the ordinary to make the extraordinary! Chippewa Valley Family challenges your family to think and play together all in the name of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (that’s where the STEAM comes in). 

Each challenge can be completed as a family or a group of friends in as little or as much time needed; however, most challenges can be completed within one sitting. The Family STEAM Challenge is also designed to get all ages involved through hands on experimenting. So get ready to put your collective thinking caps on to design a seriously cool apparatus made almost entirely out of reusable or recyclable materials laying around the house.


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