Plants are a growing interest for children's summer projects


There is a common bond that each window in our home shares.

Close by the streaming rays of sunlight are plants of all types, most of which my son or daughter planted during the last six weeks or so.

Some of the plants came from school projects. Some were gifts. Others are from seeds carefully stored from last year's flower beds.

"We need to plant these outside," my son reminds me on an almost daily basis. I nod and mentally put that task on the "when-school-gets-out" list.


We are especially looking forward to planting orange marigolds along our walkway. Marigolds are the only flower we have found to be unsavory to the rabbits living around our home.

Last year's marigolds seemed to lift our spirits each time we stepped out the front door, so my children are anxious to plant more of those this year.

I have encouraged their growing interest in all things green, even though I am the quintessential brown thumb.

I try very hard not to kill what my children have tended.

This year it's not going to be enough to have merely marigolds. There are all kinds of plants waiting to be planted outside.

We go through this in odd grades - first, third, fifth, seventh, so far - because it seems that every other year there's a plant unit in science class. With each new unit, new concepts are taught, building on what was taught two years earlier.

And, of course, we have to try out at home what we've learned at school.

As the growing season gets under way, a basic refresher on plants is in order.

How much do you remember from science class? Try your hand at these questions.

1. What three things do plants need to grow?

2. Humans breathe ____________, which is produced by plants.

3. Humans give off _________ ___________, which plants use to produce food.

4. A plant's process of making food is called _____________________.

5. A pigment called _________________ captures the sunlight energy.

6. What is the name for the cells that make the leaves and stems of a plant green?

7. What is the name of plant tissue that carries water to the plant parts?

8. What is the name of plant tissue that carries food to the plant parts?

9. The food that plants make is a kind of __________.

10. Plants can make more food than they need. This extra food is stored as __________ in the stems and roots.

Bonus question: What is the name of the small openings on a plant that allow carbon dioxide into the leaf of the plant.


1. Water, sunlight and carbon dioxide

2. Oxygen

3. Carbon dioxide

4. Photosynthesis (Photo means "light," and synthesis means "put together.")

5. Chlorophyll (Chloro means "green," and phyll means "leaf.")

6. Chloroplast (Chloro means "green," and plast means "small body.")

7. Xylem, which are long rows of hollow cells

8. Phloem

9. Sugar

10. Starch

Bonus answer: Stomata, which comes from a word meaning "mouth."

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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