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Flower or Plant for Science Fair Project

Posted by jandank (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 5, 09 at 15:07

I am looking for suggestions for a plant, preferably a flower, which could be used for an elementary school science fair project.

The project would be essentially to demonstrate Mendellian Gentics -- i.e. autosomal dominance and recessive genetic traits -- using an easy to grow and cross pollinate plant.

Essentially show what Mendel showed with his peas.

It would need to be an easy to grow plant for an elementary school child. If we could plant the parental generation this spring, and then collect seeds and replant in the summer so that we could produce the second generation before the end of the growing season.

We would be looking for a trait (such as flower color) that is controlled by a single gene to make this a project comprehensible to an elementary age child.

Peas are the obvious first choice, because that is what Mendel himself did. So we would like to do this with some other flower or plant.

I was wondering if Nasturtium flowers would work for such a project? Does anybody know anything about the genetics of Nasturtium flower that could guide me?

Any other plants (we live in Western Washington State) or flower suggestions are welcomed.
My daughter and I thank your help in advance.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Flower or Plant for Science Fair Project

The radish would probably be the best for your purposes . They grow fast and go to seeds in a few months , come in many colors and shapes and sizes. But stay away from hybrids unless you want unpredicted results .

RE: Flower or Plant for Science Fair Project

Thank you farmfreedom!
Radishes certainly grow fast and I can easily imagine being able to do not just the two required generations but more. Great suggestion.


What properties of radish (color, shape, etc) are there that are controlled by single genes that would be obvious to my 8 year old?
I have a general idea of how to cross pollinate flower (take a paint brush, brush the pollen from one flower and brush it on the next) -- is it just as simple for radishes? (I guess I have harvested any radish I have ever grown before allowing them to bolt/ go to flower)
While I have planted radish seeds many times, where to I find the seeds on a mature radish plant?

RE: Flower or Plant for Science Fair Project

Arabidopsis thaliana is available from numerous sources. It's the geneticist's plant because it grows so quickly. There are numerous well-documented forms, including ones that differ in size.

RE: Flower or Plant for Science Fair Project

My hybrid zinnias have bloomed as quickly as five weeks from seed. Some zinnias can start blooming when they are only 3 inches high. For me, zinnias are more fun than Arabidopsis or radishes.


RE: Flower or Plant for Science Fair Project

radishes may mature in 19 days but they take about 54 days to get harvestable dry seeds . They have a "rats tail radish " that is grown for its seeds. Radishes come in red , white ,red&white, Black Spanish , and I have even grown purple by accident . They come in different sizes and shapes : globe, icicle , French breakfast , minowase, dakon .the roots get woody , then the tops grow into branches then they flower then they set pods like small pea pods which dry out and turn brown . then you harvest the seeds. As to single gene inheritance ? I am not sure .

RE: Flower or Plant for Science Fair Project

If you need help on how to cross breed plants , check out one of Carol Deppes books:" Breeding Your own Vegetables " ,"Breeding Your own Vegetables for farmers" .

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