The Germination Rate of Radiated Seeds
For my science fair project this year, I decided to go with the botany theme. I found an experiment in a book titled, Science Fair Success with Plants, by Phyllis J. Perry. The experiment called for the radiating of radish seeds in a microwave before planting them to see what affect it had on the germination rate of the plants. I decided to slightly modify the experiment to make it a little more unique. I decided to use 3 types of seeds and microwave them for different amounts of time. If I expose different seeds to different amounts of radiation from a microwave, then I expect them to germinate earlier than seeds that weren’t exposed to the microwave radiation.
I hypothesize this because fats and oils don’t absorb microwaves as well as water does, meaning that the parts of the seeds that become the hottest during the microwaving are those that contain the most water molecules. Evidently, heating the water-containing portion of a seed slightly causes that seed to germinate faster. By doing this experiment, I hope to be able to prove that microwaving seeds before planting them does affect the germination rate in some way, rather than not at all. I first went out and purchased the 3 types of seeds, a container with about 48 individual planting cups in it, and some fresh potting soil. Then, I took some radish seeds and microwaved them for 15 seconds, then some more for 30 seconds, and then some more for 45 seconds on half power. I then planted the four sets of seeds (the three sets of microwaved ones and the set that wasn’t microwaved at all). After, I repeated this process 3 more times, giving me my three trials. I then labeled each plant according to what trial number it was, and how long it had been microwaved for. That completed the setup for the radish seeds. You can obviously see that this process took a while, but to make it even longer, I redid this entire process again with sunflower and tomato seeds.
After having all of the planting done, I then watered the plants, and continued to water them every day of the experiment, making sure to give each one relatively the same amount of water. Then, as the plants began to germinate, I used my Palm Pilot to record what day of the experiment it was (after planting), and how tall the plant had grown (in centimeters). I continued to do this until all the plants had sprouted, but then continued to record the plant heights for 1 or 2 additional days, out of curiosity to see if the growing rate of the plants was also affected by how much radiation exposure from the microwave they received. Please see my display board for pictures of this process as it was happening. See also my drawing for a better visual understanding.
The source from which I obtained my project idea offered a similar experiment, although in that experiment, only radish seeds were used, and each set of radish seeds was either not microwaved, or microwaved for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60 seconds. As you can see, by adding two other seed types into the mix, cutting out 3 extra microwaving times sort of balanced the project out a little more. The information uncovered in this experiment could someday be used to help farmers get their plants germinating faster and growing faster. With plants germinating and growing faster, farmers may be able to fit more crop cycles in a season. This would enable the production of more food for the general public to consume, and thus offering a legitimate and possible solution to world hunger.
As the plants began to sprout and grow taller and taller, I noticed a few interesting facts. On the reverse side of the seed packages, it said that the seeds should be expected to germinate in about 5-7 days, although the majority of the radish seeds germinated in about 4 days, and they had all germinated by the 5th day. An uncontrollable event that may have affected my results is the occasional overcast, although it would have affected the sunlight getting through to all of the plants, and not just some of them, so I have concluded that all the plants received the same amount of sunlight, and sunlight was not a factor here. By looking at the data sheets attached to this paper, you can see and understand a little better of what I will be talking about next; my results. In the case of the radish seeds, the plants that generally seemed to germinate the fastest, and grow the tallest overall, were those that hadn’t been microwaved, and those that had been microwaved for 45 seconds.
This is pretty much the opposite of what I hypothesized what would happen; that the plants that would germinate the soonest would be those seeds that had been microwaved for either 15 or 30 seconds. In the case of the sunflower seeds, a similar occurrence took place. Five sixths of the time, the seeds that weren’t microwaved at all, and those that had been microwaved for 45 seconds, germinated first, and in the end, grew to be the tallest overall. This was not the case however with the tomato seeds. My hypothesis was proved correct with the tomato seeds; the tomato seeds that had been microwaved for 15 and 30 seconds grew taller than any of the other plants on Day 6, when the majority of the seeds germinated, and grew the tallest overall in the end. If I were to do this experiment over again, I would incorporate into the experiment a wider variety of microwaving times to see if anything in between the already tested times has a faster germination rate or growth rate. Also, other experiments that could be done would be to grow some vegetables from radiated seeds, and test them for edibleness, ensuring that they are safe for the populace of this world to consume, without having to worry about any short-term or long-term side-effects.
I have thus been led to the conclusion that yes, microwaving seeds before planting them does effect the germination rate of the seeds, but the results are different from seed to seed as to how much faster than normal the microwaved seeds germinate. As I have just explained, the sunflower and radish seeds that were microwaved for 45 seconds tended to germinate the fastest, but the tomato seeds that were microwaved for 15 and 30 seconds tended to germinate the fastest. So, seeds vary as to how long they need to be microwaved for them to germinate the fastest, and although I haven’t found any yet, I’m sure that there’s a type or seed or two out there that when not microwaved at all, germinate the fastest.
Other posts on germinating radiated seeds:
Abstract for Science Fair: Germinating Radiated Seeds
The Research Paper: Grand Summary
Materials for Science Fair: Germinating Radiated Seeds
Science Fair: Germinating Radiated Seeds
Hypothesis for Science Fair: Germinating Radiated Seeds
Plan for Science Fair Project: Germinating Radiated Seeds
Procedure for Science Fair: Germinating Radiated Seeds
Procedure for Germinating Radiated Seeds... An Experiment
More of tracking progress in germinating radiated seeds
More of tracking progress in germinating radiated seeds - 3
Some History on the Experiment
A Conclusion to my Experiment about Germinating Radiated Seeds
Works Cited List for Science Fair Project: Germinating Radiated Seeds
Works Cited List for Science
Works Cited List for Science Fair: Germinating Radiated Seeds
Perry, Phyllis J. Science Fair Success with Plants. New Jersey: Enslow Publishers Inc., 1999.