Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Hydroponics - Sprouts

We've done a small side project to the hydroponics project. This one is about sprouts. It wasn't that hard to do since all that had to be done was rinsing the seeds. It took us about 5 days to do this project, and we managed to get great results. After using them up in sandwiches, we started another jar.

These are the sprout seeds, the bigs ones are radish seeds, and the smaller ones are alfalfa.

This is us setting up the jars, first we just some pantyhose to make the top of the jar, then we added water and the seeds and put them in the cabinet to dry.

Make a sprouter jar. (Source)
  1. Cut a piece of pantyhose or cheesecloth to fit over the top of a quart jar. It needs to be big enough to drape over the edge at least an inch or so.
  2. Keep it in place by stretching a rubber band around the outer edge of the jar. If it is a canning jar, you can also use the rim from a canning lid.

The seeds after they finished growing. We rinsed and dehulled them. Then we dried them and put them in bags to be eaten.

Sprout alfalfa or radish seeds (Source: SproutPeople.com)

1. Put 1 tablespoon of alfalfa sees or 3 tables of radish seeds in your sprouter jar. Cover by stretching your fabric over the top and fastening as described above.

2. Put jars someplace out of direct light where they won't be disturbed. Allow seeds to soak for 6-12 hours.

3. Drain off the soak water.

4. Rinse thoroughly with cool water. Drain thoroughly.

5. Set your sprouter anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature between rinses. This is where your sprouts do their growing.

6. Rinse and drain again every 8-12 hours for 3 days.

7. Greening: On the 4th day relocate your sprouts to a brighter location. Avoid direct sun - it can cook your sprouts. Indirect sunlight is best but virtually any light will do. Experiment - you will be amazed at how little light sprouts require to green up.

8. Continue to rinse and drain every 8-12 hours.

9. Finishing: Your sprouts will be done during day 5 or 6. The majority of sprouts will have open leaves which will be green if you exposed them to light.

10. De-Hull: Before your final rinse remove the seed hulls. Transfer the sprouts to a big (at least 3-4 times the volume of your sprouter) pot or bowl, fill with cool water, loosen the sprout mass and agitate with your hand. Skim the hulls off the surface. Return the sprouts to your sprouter for their Rinse and Drain.

11. Harvest: Your sprouts are done 8-12 hours after your final rinse. After the de-hulling and the final rinse we need to drain very thoroughly and let our sprouts dry a bit. That will help them keep longer in the refrigerator. Let sit for 8-12 hours OR use a salad spinner.

12. Refrigerate: Transfer the sprout crop to a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Everyone Should Learn the Theory of Evolution

An opinion piece in the January 2009 issue of Scientific American focusing on "The Evolution of Evolution" has this to say about Darwin:
Darwin’s genius—and, yes, genius is the right word—is manifest in the way his theory of evolution can tie together disparate biological facts into a single unifying framework. Evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky’s oft-cited quotation bears repeating here: “Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.”

Read the rest of SciAm's features -- including Testing Natural Selection with Genetics, Putting Evolution to Use in the Everyday World, and The Latest Face of Creationism in the Classroom -- here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Note from mom: I take no responsibility for the captions, or the exclamation mark overdose. The project we are working on here comes from this elementary school website from Hawaii.

This week for biology, we decided to start a hydroponic garden.We decided to grow some lettuce and basil. So we poked holes in some paper cups, put them in a metal tray full of water, added sphagnum moss and seeds, and waited a week. We also put plastic tops on the tray to keep the water from evaporating.
Yesterday we looked at the seeds with our digital microscope. We saw that the basil was growing mold, so we threw it out. We noted that the lettuce seeds are starting to grow.

Setting up the cups.


Sphagnum in a cup.

Sphagnum magnified 60 times.

The trays chillin' on their shelf.

Xenomorph egg, or basil seed? you decide.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Top 10 Amazing Biology Videos

Interesting list compiled by Wired Science blogger Aaron Rowe. Some of the links look funky, but they all work. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Roger Ebert's Review of Expelled

Movies are big at my house, and no mention of a title can pass without a certain child announcing how many stars it was given by Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert.

Ebert lost his ability to speak after an operation not long ago. But he has more than made up for it by creating a wonderful blog that touches on every subject under the sun, not just movies.

A few weeks back he ran a puzzling blog post that seemed to be favoring creationism. I immediately Googled him to find that he is indeed a staunch proponent of evolutionary theory. And he did later explain the post was intending to make a point.

Today he has posted a review of "Expelled," the documentary by Ben Stein which claims American schools are unfairly censoring creationist theory. You can read "Win Ben Stein's Mind" here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Triops Part 2

(This is a follow-up to the November 6th post about our pet Triops)
In our last post (about the Triops), we talked about how to grow a Triops, and what to feed it, plus a log of what happened in the first nine days we had one. Since then, our Triops has doubled in size, and has molted several times, and she seems to be getting ready to molt again. Also, she has gotten so large that we've started feeding her carrot peels and frozen brine shrimp. And, (possibly due to the fact that we leave the light above her tank on 24 hours a day) her tank has started getting much murkier (possibly from algae.)

Physical features that we can really see now include her legs and her antennae. Her tail is longer and you the third eye is less pronounced.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Micronaturalist's Notebook

BioMEDIA ASSOCIATES produces multimedia programming for life science instruction for middle school, high school, and college students that captures the diversity of the living world. You can purchase their videos on their website, or just take a look around at some of the interesting images and information.

Being into microphotography, I am planning on taking a closer look at the MicroNaturalist’s Notebook by award-winning biological photographer, Bruce J. Russell.

Image courtesy of BioMEDIA ASSOCIATES