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Seed Respiration: What makes a seed breathe faster?
Lynn Vaccaro
2003-2004 Fellow

This two-day experiment allows students to detect cellular respiration from a surprising source, a seed. The activity reinforces a basic understanding of cellular respiration, seed dormancy and germination, and experimental design. Depending on the course goals, each of these topics could become the primary focus of class discussions surrounding the experiment. During the activity, students are presented with an overarching goal: to determine how various factors influence the respiration rate of a seed. In small groups or pairs they decide on one factor to test, such as seed size, seed type, or moisture, light, or temperature conditions. Students all use a standardized protocol for detecting and measuring a visible indicator of respiration. This relatively simple and flexible experiment challenges the common misperception that only animals need to respire.

This curriculum was developed by Lynn Vaccaro, a graduate student in Natural Resources. The curriculum was piloted and refined in Mary Jo Doyle’s and Laurie Assermily’s 10th grade biology classes at Mynderse Academy in Seneca Falls, NY.

Downloadable WORD files:

Teacher's Guide

Student Version




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