Botany Science Projects for Middle School Students

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A great science fair project has to have two ingredients. First, it has to be a topic that can be easily researched by students between eleven and fifteen years of age. Second, the project needs to have an experimental side that is relatively safe and easy. Unless you intend to introduce poisons or nuclear radiation, most botany project meet these needs.

My best choice for a middle school science project in Botany is a project testing photo and geotropism in plants. Geotropism is the plant's attraction to gravity. Phototropism is a plant's attraction to light. You need a camera to record the results of this project.

Begin the first project with a trip to the store to buy corn seeds and the other supplies. This project requires about 4 to 5 weeks to do it right. You will need about thirty or forty seeds, a sandwich bag and paper towel for each two seeds, and a place where you can control the light source for some of the seeds. One group of seeds will need a place with no light.

Soak the seeds in water for about two or three hours. You will need six seeds for the geotropism experiment group and six for the control group. Another six seeds will be for the phototropism experiment with light coming from one side at all times. A final group of six seeds will be the overall control group for the project. It might be a good idea to set up another six seeds just in case some of the other seeds do not sprout.

Fold the paper towels so that they will fit comfortably into the sandwich bag. Place two seeds in each bag spaced apart with about the same amount of room between the seeds as between the seed and the edge of the bag. After all of the seeds are in place, water each bag until the paper towel is wet but no water standing water.

Place all of the bags in a warm safe environment for the next few days. Check about every other day to see if the seeds have germinated. When all of the seeds have germinated, divide the bags into groups with six seeds each. Label the first group geotropism The second group will be the geotropism control group. The third group will be the phototropism. Label the final group as controls. If all of the seeds germinated, you may want to have a second phototropism group.

After taking a picture of each of the groups, hang the geotropism group upside down in a dark warm place. The geotropism control group should be put into the same place, but right side up. Place the phototropism group or groups in a place where they will get light only from one direction. If you are doing more than one group, have the light coming from a different direction on the second group. The control group should be located so that it gets even light from all directions.

Check the progress of the seedlings each day and record their size and appearance. You need to be as detailed as possible during this period of time. Use the time while your plants are growing to do research on tropisms and how they work. You should find that the thing that causes the affect on plants has a little different way of operating than you might expect. Tropisms actually work by making the plant not grow as fast on the side facing the light, gravity, or other stimulus. The faster growing side causes the plant to bend toward the light or gravity. It is a lot like a steering brake on a tractor or heavy equipment.

Use your research to formulate a hypothesis. This will be a guess about how the plants will grow in response to the stimuli. Build a display that will allow you to show your pictures of the growing plants and graphs to show growth amounts. Your display should have a catchy title like, "Attractive Tropisms."

Your hypothesis should also be plainly displayed. Put your research report with a good reference page in a report cover. Your progress notes should also be put in a report cover. Both of these documents need to be displayed on the table in front of your project. Follow the rules of the science fair as closely as possible for your research and display.

Your progress notes should include your conclusions drawn from the research and experiment. It is anticipated that your conclusions will be in line with your research. If the project is set up correctly, you should see your plants stems bend toward the light and away from gravity. The roots should ignore the light and grow toward gravity.

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