Have you ever taken a walk with your students or children and found yourself waiting while they collected pine cones on the ground? This is a great time to conduct your own pine cone experiment to learn about the amazing method that pine trees have developed to protect their seeds during harsh weather conditions.
What you need:
- Two pine cones (from the same pine tree) that are the same size and with open scales
- Two clear containers (a jar, vase or bowl)
- Tap water
- Print our FREE science experiment worksheet to make recording scientific observations easy! Download Here
What you do:
- Head out on a walk and find two pine cones that are the same size and have open scales and are from the same pine tree.
- Place the two containers side-by-side on a flat surface.
- Fill one of the containers with water.
- Place one of the pine cones in the container filled with water.
- Place the second pine cone in the empty container. This pine cone will be your control specimen (for comparison).
- Describe and draw a picture of what the pine cones look like at the beginning of the experiment. Make a prediction of what will happen.
- Check back in 15 minutes. What do you notice?
- Check back the next day. What do you notice? Draw a picture. Was your prediction correct?
- Remove the pine cone from their containers and leave them out to dry. It can take a couple of days. What do you notice? Draw a picture.
- Once you’ve done the experiment, don’t dispose of the pine cones! You can use them to make a pine cone bird feeder by smearing it in peanut butter and then rolling them in birdseed!
What is going on?
Pine trees often grow in areas that get really wet, and those conditions are not ideal for the seeds to develop.
To protect the seeds from drowning in the wet ground before they have a chance to grow, the pine cone closes its scales up tight, keeping the seeds safe inside.
When the weather is sunny and the soil begins to dry, the pine cone opens its scales to release the seeds at a time when they have the best chance to grow.
Nature is amazing!!