Tag Archives: Pumpkin Project

Exploring Water This Year

A few years ago I wrote a book called “The Pumpkin Project.” It was based on some of the experiments I’d used in my classes to explore botany. At the time I was also doing science projects on my website. One summer those projects were about exploring water.

As I finished “The Pumpkin Project,” I planned to do another science book called “The Water Project.” After all, I had the experiments. The book didn’t get done.

The Pumpkin Project

I enjoy science. Finding out about how things work is interesting. At least, it’s interesting if you do the experiments instead of just reading about them. Too many schools and teachers have students read the text and answer the questions with no lab work.

Water is getting a lot of attention lately. A person can live on water alone for about a month. Without water survival shrinks to a week. For many people around the world, getting enough clean water is a daily challenge.

exploring water with water tower

Do you know what this is and what it does? Do you know how it works? That will be in “The City Water Project.”

Water is so necessary, yet we in the United States rarely give it a thought. It is supposed to be there whenever we want it.

How much do you really know about water? Where does your water come from? What happens to that water before it arrives in your house? What happens to it after it leaves your house?

“The City Water Project” is taking form. The investigations allow young people to do labs exploring water, what it is and how it works. The activities can be fun. The project will be challenging.


Goat Games

As in “Goat Games” and “The Pumpkin Project,” there will be pencil puzzles to work. These too will aid in exploring water. My biggest challenge will be not making the puzzles too difficult. But you might like a challenge.

“The City Water Project” will be lots of fun over a summer. After all, what fun is exploring water if you can’t get wet?

OS9 Looking at Sprout Roots

Up to now I think the Investigations are pretty complete including the pictures. Starting with this Investigation there are some pictures missing because I split much larger Investigations into two different ones and made some other changes.

When you complete an Investigation, please let me know if something isn’t clear or doesn’t seem to work with the procedure I have given. This will help me fix those problems.

One thing you learn as a writer is how easy it is to see what you think you wrote instead of what you actually wrote. This is why a writer sends a book to an editor. For these Investigations, you are my editors.

Outside Project 9

Looking at Sprout Roots

No matter which way a seed points, the root still grows down into the soil as you saw in Investigation 4. A plant needs lots of water to grow and make sugar. The air is too dry so this water must come from the soil. Since the root is in the soil, it must get the water and send it to the rest of the plant. First let’s find out about how water moves through a sprout root. Then go on to Investigation 10 to see how water moves through a stem.


Question: How does water move through the roots of a sprout?

sprouts for Investigation


2 Pumpkin sprouts with their first true leaves



Food coloring (red or blue)


Paper towel

Magnifying glass



Preparation: You will need 2 pumpkin sprouts for this Investigation. You can use the same ones for the next Investigation if you do them the same day. You can start the seeds in a cup of dirt or you can start them in a glass jar like you did for Investigation 4. Using the glass jar lets you see how the roots grow and you don’t have to clean the dirt off.

Step 1: Open your Science Journal and write “Investigation 9” and the date.

Step 2: Put water in the jar so it is half full and add food coloring to make it dark.

sprout in colored water

When a sprout root absorbs water full of food coloring, the color goes with the water and shows where the water goes inside the root.

Step 3: Take the two sprouts out of the cup. Wash the dirt off the roots.

Step 4: Prop one sprout in the cup so the roots are in the colored water and the cotyledons and leaves are out of the water. Set it aside until color appears in a leaf. This can take up to a day.

Step 5: Set the other sprout on a moist paper towel. Examine it with the magnifying glass.

Step 6: Carefully spread the roots out and examine the roots carefully from the tip to the cotyledons. Draw and describe the roots.

sprout root

A pumpkin sprout has a main root that quickly branches off into many smaller roots.

Step 7: Cut about 1cm of the main root tip off with your fingernails or the knife. Put the rest of the sprout in a cup of water so the roots are in and the top is out of the water.

Step 8: Place the root tip on the table.

Step 9: Examine the root tip using the magnifying glass.

Step 10: Carefully split the root tip piece lengthwise and examine the cut sides with the magnifying glass.

Step 11: Take the second sprout out of the jar, rinse it, place it on a moist paper towel, carefully spread the roots and examine them with the magnifying glass.


colored sprout roots

Food coloring makes a sprout’s roots easier to see.

Step 12: Cut about 1cm off the main root tip. Put the rest of the sprout back in the jar with the food coloring.

Step 13: Place the cut root tip on the table.

Step 14: Examine this piece using the magnifying glass.

Step 15: Carefully split this piece lengthwise and examine the cut sides with the magnifying glass.



Describe the roots on the sprout without coloring:


piece of sprout root

A sprout root piece shows the root has a main piece with small rootlets going off of it.

Describe the roots on the sprout from the colored water:


colored root piece

Food coloring starts in the small rootlets and moves into the bigger root.

Describe the tip of the roots, plain and colored:


Describe the tops of the roots where they join the stem, plain and colored:


split open sprout root

Splitting the sprout root open where it joins the stem shows the root is solid and the stem is hollow.


Was it easier to see the different parts of the root with or without the coloring in the sprout? Explain.


What does the tip of the root do in the soil as the root grows? Why would cells here have to be different than in other parts of the radicle?


Why does the very tip of the root not absorb water?


Where are the cells that take water up the root to the plant located? Why are they located here?


split stem with coloring

Blue food coloring goes up through the outside parts of a sprout root so water must go up this way too.

How does the outside of the root change above where water is absorbed?


Why would this make it hard for this part of the root to absorb water?



Spring Pumpkin Plans

One of my plans for this year was to go over and finish or discard some of the manuscripts sitting in my computer memory. Snow discourages outside activities so I opened up an old manuscript called “The Pumpkin Project.”

The Pumpkin Project

The Pumpkin Project will be a book of pumpkin trivia, puzzles, investigations, projects, recipes and more.

I taught science. I loved teaching science. This book was born out of that love.

Another favorite activity is gardening. I’m not a great gardener but enjoy being out growing or trying to grow plants. Pumpkins are fun to grow.

Like in “Goat Games” puzzles are part of this book. There are 19 puzzles finished. The mazes and coloring pages are not done yet. All relate to pumpkins and squash.

Like in “Goat Games” interviews and stories about pumpkins are in the book. It was fun doing these as I wrote and met people who love to grow giant pumpkins. These are the ones that set world records. The newest record is for a pumpkin grown in Germany weighing over 2300 pounds!

giant pumpkin

How do you grow a pumpkin this big? Why would anyone want to grow a pumpkin this big? Find some answers in “The Pumpkin Project”.

Some of these stories are too old to use, perhaps. Most are still interesting. Unfortunately pumpkins are a fall crop so I can’t redo these stories until this fall.

Like in “Goat Games” I included recipes. But “The Pumpkin Project” has a recipe section. There are lots of pumpkin recipes from soups to pancakes to breads and muffins to pudding and pie, even cheesecake.

pumpkin cookies

My favorite pumpkin cookies taste like pumpkin pie but in a soft chewy cookie.

Several of these recipes are ones I still make from time to time. But I have yet to make one or two. Luckily I still have some pumpkin puree to use.

Most of “The Pumpkin Project” is about the pumpkin Investigations. There are 19 Investigations and 2 Projects.

The Investigations begin with looking at seeds and end looking at pumpkins. The Projects are growing and using pumpkins.

baby pumpkin

What is it? A baby pumpkin. Do the pumpkin Investigations and find out about pumpkin seeds, sprouts, plants and, of course, pumpkins.

If you have checked out any of my science projects in the Project Corner, you know I like to have pictures showing the Project being done. I made some changes in the pumpkin Investigations and need pictures. There is a problem.

Pumpkins grow in warm weather. Snow is not helpful. Single digits at night are not helpful. Pumpkins take months to grow.

I would love to finish this book this year. But I hate to make everyone wait an entire year to have a chance to enjoy and try out the book.

“The Pumpkin Project” will be featured on the Outside Project page this summer. Except you can’t wait until summer to start your pumpkin plants. Mr. Richard Botorff grows giant pumpkins every year and starts them in April.

pumpkin sprout

Warm weather is pumpkin growing weather. Get your pumpkin projects started this April.

“The Pumpkin Project” will begin in April. The Investigations will appear on the Outside Project page. But the book with all the other puzzles, recipes, trivia and more will be by subscription sent in PDF installments over the summer. The printed book will be sent out this fall to those subscribing then offered for sale to everyone else.

Sign ups begin after the “Dora’s Story” giveaways end.