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Family STEAM Challenge: Socks 'N' Seeds

It’s never too late in the year to grow something! Let’s break some rules and see how what nature can grow without seeds from the store.

This issue’s STEAM topic:

Exploring and observing the science behind collecting seed from outside and growing it inside.

The Mission:

Use your scientific and detective skills to figure out what kind of seeds you collected as well as how they grow and how they might travel in the wild. 

The Challenge:

How much and what kind of seeds can you collect just by walking outside.

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

• Ziploc Bag
• Old Socks
• Water
• Tape

Growing your sock:
This challenge is very open-ended as it can be applied whenever and wherever there is nature! To start you will need an old pair of socks. Put them on and go for a walk outside, WITHOUT putting your shoes on! While on your walk, look around and either take notes, take pictures, or try to remember the kinds of plants or trees that you see so you can identify them later. Once you are back from your walk, put the sock in a bag, get it wet and shut the bag! Tape it to a window or a wall that gets a lot of sunlight. Leave it there for a week or two and watch what kind of plants your sock grows! As they grow, look back at the pictures or notes to see if you can match the new plant to its parent plant.

Questions to Mull Over:

• How do seeds travel in nature?
• Do they have different methods of travel depending on the plant?
• Do animals move seeds too?
• What kind of plants or trees are on your sock?
• Can those seeds grow in the shade of their adult tree?
• What if your seeds aren’t in the sun?
• Can you plant your sock outside and will it still grow?
• Can you see all of the seeds on your sock?

Thank you to Sarah McInnis, director of play experience 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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