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Legacy Project
Activity

REACH FOR THE SUN

Learn more about reaching your own goals by watching
a plant

The sun is a very special, life-giving star. On the green pages toward the end of Dream, the wise old star narrating the story explains that "Dreams grow like seeds. They need to take root, then stretch toward the sun." This is called a "simile." A simile draws a comparison between two things -- in this case the growth of a plant and the growth of a dream -- so that we can better understand one through our understanding of the other. See what you can learn about dreams by experimenting with real plants.

There are two key factors that affect the way in which a seed and then the subsequent plant grows. The first is "geotropism" which is Greek for "turning to the Earth." It involves the way seeds grow relative to gravity -- their roots grow toward the center of the Earth. No matter which way you plant a seed, it always manages to grow roots downward and a shoot upward. Plants depend on gravity so much that when they're put in a zero-gravity tank, they get confused and grow any which way.

The second factor affecting plant growth is "heliotropism" which is Greek for "turning toward the sun." Plants need light to manufacture food and grow. Have you ever noticed how house plants often lean toward the light of a nearby window? Plants need light so much that they will grow toward even the faintest light source.

Start your experiment by soaking eight to twelve bean seeds overnight. Line the inside of two drinking glasses or jars with wet, folded paper towels. Stuff wet, crumpled paper towels into the center of the glasses to hold the folded towels firmly against the glass.

Put half of the beans in one glass and half in the other. Place the beans between the paper towels and the glass. Put them in different positions -- level, straight up and down, on an angle. Make sure there's space between the beans.

Watch the seeds over several days, adding water as required to keep the paper towels wet. What happens to the seeds? Which way do the roots grow? Does it matter how you placed the beans? Once the roots have grown to a few inches, carefully lay one of the glasses on its side. Again, watch the seeds over several days, keeping the paper towels wet. What happens to the plants in each glass? In which direction do the roots grow? In which direction do the stems and leaves grow?

To continue your experiment, find or make a divided box (e.g. divided into nine sections, 3 x 3). Cut holes in the dividers to create a winding path from one corner of the box to the far corner. Cut a fairly large hole in the side of the box in the far corner. This is your plant maze. Place a small, healthy plant in the corner where the path starts, away from the large hole. Cover the maze with a cloth or sheet of cardboard so that sunlight streams in ONLY through the large hole. Remove the cover briefly to water the plant regularly. What happens after about a week? Does the plant grow in the box? What happens to the green color of the leaves? Does the plant grow toward the light?

That concludes your dream plant experiment! What can you learn from what you observed? What parallels can you make between the growth of a plant and the growth of a dream? Write a story or a poem. What do you need to make a dream grow? What happens if obstacles are put in your way (e.g. you don't start out pointing in the right direction)? What does the plant maze tell you about focus and determination? Do you think a plant that starts out in difficult conditions grows to be a stronger, hardier plant in the end? What does that tell you about your dreams?

© SV Bosak, www.legacyproject.org

Materials
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Bean seeds (they
  grow quickly, so
  they’re a good
  choice)
Small, healthy,
  potted bean plant
Two large drinking
  glasses or jars
A box divided into
  sections (e.g. like
  the kind of box a
  set of drinking
  glasses comes in)
Water
Paper towels
Scissors
Cloth or sheet of
  cardboard
Paper
Pen/pencil

Connections
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Schools (science;
  language arts)
Families

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