Our family loves to eat corn, especially when we can find fresh, organic corn in our local area. I had purchased some ears of corn to prepare for dinner, and decided to use a few of the kernels for a fall science activity.
A little background on corn
I used to think that corn kernels were the seeds of the corn, but I have since learned that this is not technically correct.
Instead, each kernel on an ear of corn contains one seed inside a fleshy fruit (caryopsis) and a fruit wall (pericarp). In other words, there is a seed inside the kernel, but the whole kernel is more than just the seed.
Each ear of corn contains roughly 800 kernels formed into 16 rows around the cob.
Typically, farmers will save seeds for the next year’s harvest by selecting ears of their best corn and drying them completely. Exactly how and when to harvest and dry the corn depends on the variety of corn selected.
Sprouting fresh sweet corn
Day 0: We removed a few kernels from the cob and placed them onto a damp paper towel inside of a small container. The fruit wall (pericarp) of the kernels were intact.
Day 2: Two days later, the pericarp on three of the kernels was still intact. But the pericarp on the fourth kernel had popped open and the tiniest hint of a sprout could be seen.
(Note that we kept the paper towel damp at all times, adding water as needed once or twice a day.)
Day 5: Three days later (for a total of five days after we began our sprouting demonstration), the one kernel that had popped on day 2 was still progressing. Two small, green shoots were visible inside the kernel.
However, the kernel also showed signs of molding. This may be because we were sprouting fresh kernels. Farmers typically dry their corn kernels to plant the following year. Thorough drying is important because moist kernels will mold, as ours did.
Of course, we were not intending to plant the corn. We were just sprouting the corn to observe what happened. But it would be very interesting to compare how both fresh and dry corn kernels sprout.
More corn resources
More corn posts from Gift of Curiosity:
Join 55,000+ parents, teachers, and caregivers who receive hands-on activities in their inbox each week. Plus, new subscribers save $10 on their first printables purchase from our shop!
Original article and pictures take http://www.giftofcuriosity.com/sprouting-fresh-corn-kernels-fall-science-for-kids/ site