Super seed spinner

Activity

Make this simple seed spinner to show how seeds are dispersed. Discover the amazing mechanisms used by plants to spread their seeds far and wide. 

  • Estimated time: 15 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Investigate the effect of weight on a seed spinner
  • Discover the way to make a seed travel the furthest
  • Find out how plants make sure they survive on earth by sending out seed

Essential background information

Preparation

Trees and plants use different methods to move their seeds  and make them land away from them. This will make sure they have  enough light and water to grow and eventually reproduce.

Collect different seeds and look to see how they 'travel'.

Look at apples, acorns, conkers, peas, seeds from pinecones and sycamore trees as well as dandelions.

Equipment

  • Post- it notes
  • Scissors
  • Paperclips
  • Collected seeds
 

Step by step

  1. Use one square post-it note  and make 3 cuts at equal distances from the bottom edge towards the sticky area at the top. Stop around 15mm before the top.
  2. Fold the middle strip downwards to make a Y shape; it should stick to the sticky area.
  3. The other two ‘arms’ can be folded: one facing forward and one behind. This is now a ‘seed spinner’. It is based on an acer seed or helicopter seeds as they are more commonly known.
  4. To begin, use a paperclip and attach it to the centre area of the Y. Hold the seed above your head and let it drop to the floor. How did it fly? Where did it land?
  5. Move the position of the paperclip, does it have any effect on the flight?
  6. Try using more than one paperclip - does it make the seed move faster?

Hints & tips

  • Gravity plays an important part in seed dispersal - how can you see gravity? Think about how it will affect seed dispersal.
  • What is more important - moving quickly or for a greater distance?
  • If you can, go upstairs and drop the seed spinner from the top.
  • Why not try this different seed spinner (pdf).
  • Try this explosive seed spinner (pdf).

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