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J. L. HUDSON, SEEDSMAN, BOX 337, LA HONDA, CALIFORNIA 94020-0337 USA

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Gibberellic Acid Science Fair Projects

Elementary School: ages 6 - 10
Middle School: grades 5 - 8, ages 10 - 13
High School (ages 14 and up)
Advanced Placement High School (ages 16 and up)


Click here for our Gibberellic Acid Kits.

What is Gibberellic Acid?
Gibberellic Acid-3 (GA-3) is a natural substance found in plants that may control growth, or speed seed sprouting. Simply put, it is a plant hormone. GA-3 is produced commercially by growing a type of mold in vats, then extracting and purifying the GA-3 (the same way penicillin is made). More information on GA-3.

Is Gibberellic Acid safe?
GA-3 is naturally present in many foods, and is classed as non-toxic. Click here for more information on GA-3 safety.

Gibberellic Acid Science Fair Project
(Elementary School: ages 6 - 10)

What is science? Science is when you ask a question, and then try to find out the answer.

Question: What does gibberellic acid (GA-3) do to seeds? (pronounced ji-ber-EL-ik)

Experiment: Soak pea seed in water and also in GA-3 solution to see what happens.

This simplest project uses just two tests for a single type of seed (pea or bean works best) - full strength GA-3 (1000ppm) and plain water.

What you will need:
100mg packet of GA-3 powder and a container to mix it in.
Water - distilled or purified water is best.
Twenty seeds of pea or bean. We suggest using Pea Dwarf Grey Sugar, though any pea or bean will do.
Two small containers like pill bottles or small jars to soak the seeds in, or you can use the small 2x2" zip poly bags we offer.
Two pots of planting soil - small 4" wide pots are large enough.
Two blank plant labels and a permanent marker or #2 pencil to write on them.
Water and sunlight!
A notebook or notepaper to describe your experiment and your results.
Optional: A camera to take pictures of your results.

The Experiment:
1) Put GA-3 powder in the bottle supplied in our kit, and add water up to top mark, let sit overnight to dissolve. If you use your own container, add the 100mg packet of GA-3 to a little less than 1/2 cup of water (100ml). Label this "GA-3 - 1000ppm". (ppm means "parts per million")
2) Count out two batches of 10 seeds of the pea or bean.
3) Make up 2 pots of soil.
4) Soak ten peas in plain water overnight, then plant in a pot. Label the pot "Control".
5) Soak ten peas in full strength GA-3 overnight, then plant. Label the pot "GA-3 - 1000ppm".
6) Water the pots and see what happens! Let them grow a week or two.
7) Optional: Take pictures each day.
8) Write down what happened, then write down what you think GA-3 does to seeds.

Tips:
Plant seeds about three times as deep as the size of the seed.
Don't over-water - soggy soil is harmful.
For each pot write down when the seeds sprouted - how many days from planting they sprouted, and how many sprouted in each pot.
Measure the seedlings and write down how tall they are each day.
Write down if you think any of the seeds grow too tall too quickly.
Do all the seedlings look healthy?

Your report:
Write down what you did (making the solution, soaking the seeds, and planting them).
Write down what happened - when the seeds sprouted, how they grew, what they looked like.
Write down what you think GA-3 does to seeds.
Does GA-3 help or hurt seeds? Or some of each?

Optional other things to try:
If you have GA-3 solution left over, try some other kinds of seeds and see what happens. Or you can paint some GA-3 solution onto the growing tip of a plant in your garden and see what happens.

Tip: You should run the experiment well in advance of the fair, and take pictures as the seedlings grow, and write up your results, then start another two batches of peas about 10 days to 2 weeks before the fair, to have a living example for people to look at.

NOTE to parents: Under age 12, an adult should mix the GA-3 powder into the water. GA-3 is safe and non-toxic, but young people should be taught proper careful handling of all chemicals. Young people should be supervised when using the GA-3.

We hope that you find out more from your experiment than what GA-3 does to seeds - we hope you find out that science is fun!

Gibberellic Acid Science Fair Project (Middle School: grades 5 - 8, ages 10 - 13)

What is science? Science is when you ask a question, and then try an experiment to find out the answer.

Question: What does gibberellic acid do to seeds?

Experiment: Soak two kinds of seeds in GA-3 at different strengths to see what happens.

What you will need:
100mg packet of GA-3 powder and a container to mix it in.
Water - distilled or purified water is best.
Two kinds of seeds, 40 seeds each. One kind should be dormant (a kind that needs GA-3 to germinate), the other should be a seed which sprouts readily. We suggest using Pea Dwarf Grey Sugar (sprouts readily), and Angel's Trumpet (Datura inoxia), which have dormant seed. Do not eat the seeds! Datura will make you sick!
Eight small containers like pill bottles to soak the seeds in, or you can use the small 2x2" zip poly bags or the small culture tubes we offer (for the smaller seed - peas won't fit in them).
Eight pots of planting soil - small 4" wide pots are large enough.
Eight blank plant labels and a permanent marker or #2 pencil to write on them.
Water and sunlight!
A notebook or notepaper to describe your experiment and your results.
Optional: A camera to take pictures of your results.

Tip: Angel's Trumpet takes longer to sprout than peas, so start Angel's Trumpet about three weeks before the Fair, then start the peas about 10 days to 2 weeks before the fair. Shoo-fly sprouts faster, about the same as the peas.

Seeds: Pea and Angel's Trumpet. Each kind of seed will be tried 4 times:
Plain water (no GA-3).
1/10th strength GA-3 (=100ppm).
1/2 strength GA-3 (=500ppm).
Full strength GA-3 (=1000ppm).

The Experiment:
1) Put GA-3 powder in the bottle supplied in our kit, and add water up to top mark, let sit overnight to dissolve. If you use your own container, add the 100mg packet of GA-3 to a little less than 1/2 cup of water (100ml). Label this "GA-3 - 1000ppm". (ppm means "parts per million")
2) Make up the two weaker strengths:
Add 1 tablespoon of full strength to 9 tablespoons plain water for 1/10th strength GA-3
Add equal amounts full strength and water for 1/2 strength GA-3.
Be sure to keep some of the full strength solution.
3) Count out four batches of 10 seeds of each kind.
4) Make up 8 pots of soil.
5) Soak ten seed of each in plain water overnight, then plant. Label "Control"
6) Soak ten seed of each in 1/10th strength overnight, then plant. Label "100ppm"
7) Soak ten seed of each in 1/2 strength overnight, then plant. Label "500ppm"
8) Soak ten seed of each in full strength overnight, then plant. Label "1000ppm"
9) Water the pots and see what happens!
10) Write down what happened, then write down what you think GA-3 does to seeds.

Tips:
Plant seeds about three times as deep as the size of the seed.
Don't over-water - soggy soil is harmful.
For each pot write down when the seeds sprouted - how many days from planting they sprouted, and how many sprouted in each pot.
Watch the seedlings and write down how tall they are each day.
Write down if you think any of the seeds grow too tall too quickly.
Do all the seedlings look healthy?
Do the seeds grow differently depending on the strength of the GA-3?
Did the two kinds of seeds act the same, or differently?

Your report:
Write down what you did (making the solutions, soaking the seeds, and planting them).
Write down your measurements and observations.
Write down what you think GA-3 does to seeds.
Does GA-3 help or hurt seeds? Or some of each?

Optional other things to try:
If you have GA-3 solution left over, try some other kinds of seeds and see what happens. Or you can paint some GA-3 solution onto the growing tip of a plant in your garden and see what happens.

We hope that you find out more from your experiment than what GA-3 does to seeds - we hope you find out that science is fun, and interesting, too!

NOTE to parents: Under age 12, an adult should mix the GA-3 powder into the water. GA-3 is safe and non-toxic, but young people should be taught proper careful handling of all chemicals. Young people should be supervised when using the GA-3 or handling Angel's Trumpet seeds.
When purchasing Angel's Trumpet (Datura inoxia) seed for use in this project, be sure to get the seed which has not been pre-treated with GA-3, since we also offer pre-treated seed.
Angel's Trumpet seeds are safe to touch and handle, but are poisonous to eat - supervise young people when handling Angel's Trumpet seeds, and keep extra seeds out of children's reach. Unfortunately, these are the only seeds we have found that are reliably dormant and yet easily sprouted with GA-3, and are also large enough to handle for this project. They are about the best for this project.

Gibberellic Acid Science Fair Project for High School (ages 14 and up):

What is science? Science is a way of thinking about things and asking questions about the world, and a way of trying to get accurate answers to those questions.

The experiment is essentially the same as the above, but the student should read garden books and specialty seed catalogs to find a number of seeds that are dormant and usually need cold to sprout, and the student should do a number of experiments to determine the best concentration of GA-3 needed to sprout the seeds and have healthy seedlings.

Gibberellic Acid Science Fair Project for Advanced Placement High School (ages 16 and up):

What is science? Science is a way of thinking about things and asking questions about the world, and a way of trying to get accurate answers to those questions. It is a combination of a special type of thinking - rationalism, which uses logic, and empiricism, which is careful observation of the world. Science begins with observation - What do we see? - then tries to come up with an explanation for what we see - called the "hypothesis" (or "this is what we think may be happening"). Then scientists try an experiment to check if the hypothesis is correct. Questions need to be specific and carefully asked, and experiments carefully designed to give accurate answers to the questions. Plus, science should be an open, public process - sharing the answers one gets is essential in scientific endeavors so that others can check your results for themselves, and benefit from your discoveries (for scientists this is by publication in a scientific journal, or in your case by presentation of your results at a science fair or in a paper presented in your science class).

Project for the most advanced students:
Identify a number of wild plants from your home area and collect seeds from them, and then do GA-3 experiments on them. This will be actual primary scientific research as you will most likely be studying GA-3 effects on species that have never been studied before. Then you should share your results with any local groups that work with propagating plants - garden clubs, botanic gardens, native plant societies, restorationists, nurserymen, etc. This will demonstrate the processes of basic applied science, from asking a question (can GA-3 help the germination of wild plants), to designing the experiment, interpreting and writing up the results, and then sharing the results with those who can apply them to useful activity in the real world (helping the practical propagation of wild plants for the nursery industry, parks, and restorations).

Tip: Many seeds are dormant for a period ranging from days to weeks right after they ripen, so for most seeds, experiments should begin after they have been cleaned and stored dry for a while.


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