Because science is all around us, it is easy to teach homeschool science with the ordinary objects already around us. Botany is a perfect example. Many of the kitchen scraps you normally discard after making a pot of soup or casserole can be reused in gardening projects that teach children scientific principles.
Green onion bottoms
Don’t throw away the white bulbs and roots on your green onions. Plant them in potting soil and watch them grow. In a matter of days, your onions will probably have grown tall enough to harvest a few inches for a salad. This project is great for beginners since green onions grow so quickly.
Carrot tops are also easy to grow. Simply place them in a shallow dish of water, and place the dish in the sun. Add water when necessary. The tops will quickly sprout fresh green leaves. If you like, you can later replant the carrots into soil.
A sweet potato grows into a very impressive plant with only water. Suspend a whole sweet potato partially in water by selecting a jar with a mouth that is a perfect size for wedging the potato, or use toothpicks to make a support for the potato. Roots will begin to grow down into the water; shoots will grow up and curl down over the glass jar.
The same method works for a white or yellow potato as well. Keep a potato in a dark, warm spot to encourage it to sprout eyes. The submerge some of those eyes into water so they can form roots.
Use a chunk of store bought ginger root, making sure it has a growth bud — a little rounded tip. Plant it in soil and wait for it to sprout through the dirt.
Save the pit from an avocado and use water to encourage it to root. Use a clean glass jar filled with water. Poke three toothpicks or pins into the avocado to serve as a frame to suspend the pit partially in the water. It may take several weeks, but eventually, the pit should split and a root will grow down into the water. Later a branch will grow from the top and even sprout leaves.
After you get your vegetables to grow, experiment with the plants. Printable lab report sheets instill an early appreciation for the scientific method and make it easy to pose questions, make hypotheses, and record observations.
Try these easy experiment ideas:
1. Test respiration by putting the plant inside a plastic bag for several hours. Observe the water that has condensed inside the bag and find out where it came from.
2. Test a plant’s reaction to light by hiding a plant in a dark spot for a few days. Or turn the plant sideways and see how it grows.
Kitchen scrap gardening integrates the study of science into your day in a low-cost and environmentally friendly way. Try growing some cuttings and clippings with your children this week.