Make a seed spinner

Activity

Make this simple seed spinner to demonstrate how seeds are dispersed in the wild. Make subtle changes and find out more about the mechanisms employed 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 particular model
  • Learn that seeds ensure that plants reproduce themselves

Preparation

Study different seeds and discuss how they may be dispersed.
Look at familiar fruits such as apples or common tree seeds such as acorns, conkers, pinecones and ‘helicopters’.
Gravity also plays a part in the process. Discuss how it affects seed dispersal.

Equipment needed

  • Post- it notes
  • Scissors
  • Paperclips

Step by step

  1. Use one square post-it note per child and ask them to 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 where it was sticky. Hold the seed above your head and let it drop to the floor. How did it fly? Where did it land?
  5. Move the paperclip around the seed spinner and see what effect it has on its flight.

Hints & tips

  • Trees and plants use different methods of seed dispersal to ensure they reproduce, when they land further way from the parent plant they have access to more light and water.
  • Use this activity as part of Supermarket Sweep class growing topic

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