Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pinecones: How They Protect Their Seeds

We have been taking full advantage of our warm days before it gets too hot and humid to take walks around the neighborhood this summer.  While on our last walk, we noticed a lot of branches, pine needles, and pinecones around on the ground.  I mentioned to Jumping Bean and Jelly Bean that the winds from the storm the other night may have blown them off the trees, just like the seeds blew away in our Seeds BLAST

We decided to conduct an experiment with pinecones similar to the one I saw on Momma Owl's Lab.  Our investigation is about what happens to pinecones, if anything at all, when placed in water over time.  The water represents rain outside so this experiment can be applied easily to real life. 

We went back to our house to collect as many pinecones as we could find.  Right away, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean recognized that the pinecones were all different.  Some pinecones were big, some were small.  Some pinecones were wet, some were dry.  I did point out that some of the pinecones scales were open, and some of the pinecones scales were closed.

Having different pinecones presented a great opportunity to throw some math into our science lesson.  We sorted the pinecones according to size and then open or closed.  You can also get a ruler and measure the pinecones.

Next, I asked them to draw a picture of what the pinecones look like in the beginning.  I loved seeing how Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean interpreted how to draw an open pinecone.  Their drawings are very different.

After drawing, we predicted what would happen to the pinecone once we placed it in water.  Both girls agreed that it would float, but that doesn't surprise me because we just completed the Will it Float, Will it Sink activity not long ago.

After a couple hours, the pinecones were ready to look at.  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean were surprised, the open pinecones were now closed.

In nature, pinecones close when it rains to protect their seeds.  The winged seeds of a pinecone do not disperse well when they are wet so the pinecone closes up in rainy conditions to keep them dry.


  • water
  • container
  • pinecones
  • paper
  • marker
  • ruler (optional)
  1. Collect a variety of pine cones- small/big and open/closed.
  2. Sort pine cones.
  3. Measure the length of the pine cones.
  4. Predict what will happen to the pine cones when placed in water.
  5. Draw a picture of what the pine cones look like in the beginning.
  6. Place the pine cones in water for 2 hours.
  7. Take the pine cones out of the water and discuss what happened-  the pine cones are now closed to protect the seeds.

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