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Science for Kids/Electricity + Plant Growth

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Question
Hi, I am helping my little sister do a science project about effect of electricity on plant growth. My problem is I don't know how to produce electricity to the plants. I know there are several ways of doing this, I am planning to do this in two ways:
1. Use DC 9,6, and 12 V batteries and copper rods (Which will give 5 minute shocks to the plants every day for 3 weeks)

2. Generate electricity that will give continuous shocks to the plants for 24 hours 7 days a week for 3 weeks.

So, how do I build them? Also, my sister wanted to electrocute the seeds before we plant them. How do I electrocute seeds? Thank you in advance.

Answer
HI Caroline,

Using a battery (9V) attache wires to each terminal and put alligator clips on the ends of the wire.  Each wire should be about 18" long and use something like telephone wire.  This is very thin wire or use speaker wire.  Both can be found at Radio Shack.  To shock seeds, place the seeds on a wet paper towel and the attach the alligator clips on either end of the paper towel so that the flow of current goes through the wet paper through the seeds and to the other clip.  

For the plants, since these will be in pots or peat pots, and the soil will be wet, then the electricity will pass through the wet soil.  Use the same set up with the battery and wires with alligator clips but this time using fatter copper wire insert a fat copper wire on either side of the pot with the plant growing in it and then attache the alligator clips to the copper wires in the pot,  This will allow the current to flow through the pot and root system of the plant.  You can include a switch in the circuit to turn it on and off as you wish, or leave it on for extended periods of time.  Just remember to test the battery periodically since this will drain a battery fairly fast.  So have a stock pile of batteries for this.  

You also need to have a set of plants that act as the control group that nothing is done to for comparison and a set of plants with short shocks and one with long term shocks.  

You can also use different levels of power by using different battery set ups.

Good Luck.  

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Ralph Salier-Hellendag

Expertise

Science Fair Judge for many years and experience with robotics, biology, chemistry, industrial processes, metalurgy and metal forming.

Experience

Science Fair Judge for many years and have helped several students get to state level competition. Most recently 2 of my students received state level awards and one went on to the nationals in Washington DC.

Education/Credentials
BA Archaeology - Anthropology
MA Business Anthropology

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