Germination race


Count and measure seedlings in this maths and science activity.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): English, Maths, Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn what plants need to grow
  • Discuss findings with others
  • Take measurements of the seedlings
  • Learn key horticultural terms


When selecting seeds choose a size of seed your pupils can handle easily. For younger children we suggest peas, beans, sunflowers or nasturtium. For older children we suggest lettuce, chard, radish, poached egg plants or cornflower. These are all fun to watch grow.


  • Pots or containers which had seeds sown in them last session
  • Ruler
  • Calendar
  • Pencils and colouring pencils
  • Seed packets

Step by step

  1. Sow some fast growing vegetable or flower seeds in pots or trays. Make sure they are labelled with their name and date they were sown. Count and record the number of seeds that were sown.
  2. When the seedlings have shown signs of growth for around a week examine them. Work out how many days ago each pot or tray was sown. Note how many seeds germinated per pot or tray.
  3. Separate the trays or pots of those that have and have not germinated? Work out the percentage for each pot. 
  4. Make a note of the names of those seeds that have not germinated and discuss why this might have  happened. Ask students to say what they think happened to their seedlings.
  5. Discuss what a seed needs to grow, and which seedlings look the healthiest? Discuss what growing conditions these seeds had.
  6. Measure the height of different seedlings and record the shortest, tallest and median.
  7. Think of a way to show others your findings about seedling care. This could be in a visual form such as a short film or written instructions of how to look after plants.

Hints & tips

  • Overwatering is often the cause of poor germination as the seeds rot before emergence or die due to fungal disease (damping off).
  • Ask each child to be responsible for one tray or pot of seeds and seedlings. Ask them to record how often the seeds were watered and if they had any special treatment.
  • Use this activity as part of the Spring Seed Sowing and Supermarket Sweep class growing topics.

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