two green watering cans in a garden

Water, Plants, and Seeds

Students who are blind and visually impaired explore how much water plants need to live, and how much water seeds need to sprout.

Two classes of students from the Secondary Program at Perkins School for the Blind explored the topics of plant life and what living things need to grow throughout the school year.  In April, they sat down separately to come up with a question related to the theme of the science fair:  water!  One class (Stephanie’s class) decided to focus on seeds, while another class (Dan’s) decided to explore plants which were already growing.  The students came up with two different questions about plants and water:

One group asked, “How much water do plants need to stay alive?”

The other group asked, “How much water do seeds need to sprout?”



Both classes obtained planting materials from the Greenhouse on campus, and from Home Depot on Community Experience.   Stephanie’s class chose to plant radish seeds, as they read that these seeds tend to spout quickly.   Dan’s class worked with four plants which already had stems, leaves, and were about 5 inches in height.  Stephanie’s class worked with three pots of soil with 5 seeds in each pot.

The classes spent time planting these seeds, and decided on quantities of water that would be given to each plant.  Dan’s class decided that each plant would be given no water, one cup of water, two cups of water, three cups of water, and four cups of water, respectively.   Stephanie’s class decided to give their seeds no water, a little bit of water (one cup) and a lot of water (two cups), respectively.

How much water do plants need to stay alive?

student feeling a plant
Student checks plant to soil to see if it is wet or dry

Two students started their experiment with plants which were already growing, giving each plant its designated amount of water every day.  Each day, the students used their vision and sense of touch to explore the plants, looking for signs of life or dying.   They recorded their observations by verbally describing the plants to their teacher or pointing the plants that they felt seemed healthy.

How much water do plants need to sprout?

The other group of students planted their seeds in soil, and gave each plant its designated amount of water every day.  Each day, the students used their vision and sense of touch to feel the top of the soil, looking for signs that the seed had sprouted.  Students used their “yes” and “no” tangible and Mayer Johnson symbols to record whether or not they felt a seedling.

setting up the soil


1.  Finding potting soil, using an adapted jig set-up.
feeling the soil2.  Feeling that the soil is dry.
finding the stems


3.  Is it wet or dry?
student with watering can4.  If it’s dry, add water.
looking at options


5.  Use Mayer Johnson symbols to indicate need for water. 



At the end of both trials, all students sat down for a final look at the plants and seeds.  Dan’s classroom looked at all four of the plants, identifying the healthiest-looking and feelings plants in the group.  They looked for the plants with the most green leaves and strongest stems.  It was determined that the plants that received two to three cups of water were the healthiest of all four plants.

Stephanie’s class dug out seeds from the three different pots and compared their sizes.  The students used their vision and sense of touch to determine that seed which grew the largest, and identified it by pointing to one of the seeds/seedlings out of the field of three seeds.  It was determined that the seed that received a little bit of water (1 cup) grew the most during the trial.


Two students came to the conclusion that the plants that got two or three cups of water everyday were the healthiest plants.  This conclusion supported their initial hypothesis, “Plants need water to stay healthy,” and showed that their type of plant needs more than one cup of water every day to stay healthy.

The other group came to the conclusion that seeds that received a little bit of water (1 cup) everyday grew the most.  This conclusion supported the hypothesis of three of them, but refuted the hypothesis of a fourth.  The class also discussed that a seed needs just the right amount of water – not too little, and not too much – to sprout.

NGSS Standards:


Interdependent relationships in ecosystems : Plants depend on water and light to grow, and also depend on animals for pollination or to move their seeds around.

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