STEAM at Home: Plants from Scraps

Today’s Earth Day! There’s a lot of discussion online these days about at home learning. There’s also a lot of discussion online about taking the scraps of vegetables and re-growing them, as a project but also as a way to get more usage out of foods you have purchased. Putting those two discussions together equals one great STEAM at Home project. This is a fun project that promotes sustainability, teaches about gardening, and provides yummy results! It would be great for Earth Day, or any day!

What you need:

  • The “ends” of vegetables, such as romaine lettuce, green onions/scallions, etc. See link below for how to do this project with a wide variety of produce.
  • Small jars
  • Water
  • An area with some light

This particular project demonstrates hydroponic gardening. Hydro means water, so in this case the plants grow only in water, without any soil.

With your child, take your vegetable “scrap”—in our case the bottom of a head of romaine lettuce—and put it in the jar. Make sure the jar is the right size so that it will help to keep your romaine end upright. Add water to about halfway up the piece of romaine lettuce. Put the jar in a window or area with good light. Wait.

Ask your child what they think will happen: Will it grow? If it does, how fast will it grow? How long do they think it will be before it is tall enough to harvest and eat? Document the experiment with before photos and during the growing process.

Amazingly, the waiting part isn’t all that long. My daughter and I started our first romaine lettuce end at lunchtime on Thursday, April 16. By the next morning, it already looked like this! More growth was even noticeable by that evening.

By Saturday afternoon, there was about an inch of growth. By Monday morning, the lettuce was well on its way. We’re going to leave it until it is a bit bigger, then move it into a bigger jar or bowl to get tall enough to make another tasty salad with.

Here’s two great links with more information on gardening from scraps and ends of produce, followed by some other great at home kids gardening activities:

Categories: eNewsletter, Featured, Homepage Kids, Homepage Teens, Kids, Library News, and Teens.

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