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Seed Bombs and Slingshots
Try This Science Lab

Here’s a recipe for germination and dissemination. Say what? Make mud pies that provide a growing (germinating) place for seeds. Then get creative about flinging—or slinging (disseminating)—those seeds out into the environment.

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YOU WILL NEED

  • baking sheet
  • newspaper
  • several packets of seeds
  • optional: compost or peat moss
  • 20-pound bag of soil with a loam or clay component so that it can form a ball
  • optional: air-dry clay from a craft store (it will help hold the seed bomb together.)

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STEP ONE

Cover or fill the baking sheet with newspaper. This is your drying rack.

STEP TWO

Soak the seeds in water for one to eight hours. Adding compost or peat moss to this water will make it more nutritious for the seeds.

Make seed bombs and slingshots

STEP THREE

Mix the soil with your hands until it holds together in a ball. (Adding air-dry clay may help.) Make table-tennis–size balls of soil.

 

Make seed bombs and slingshots

STEP FOUR

Set each seed ball on newspaper and let them dry for several hours or overnight.

Make seed bombs and slingshots

STEP FIVE

The next day, plant your seed balls by hand, or throw, catapult, or slingshot them into a plowed or dug-over garden or field. (Keep scrolling to learn how to make a slingshot!)

Make seed bombs and slingshots

WHAT TO EXPECT

Plants will grow in a random, scattered pattern and won’t look like a formal garden.

 

 

WHAT'S GOING ON

Seed balls maintain seeds in a good condition for growing. Mixing the seeds with compost, peat moss, and nutritious soil keeps them in a state that fosters healthy plants that may grow more quickly.

 

 

 

 

BONUS: MAKE A SLINGSHOT!

YOU WILL NEED

  • an adult
  • a paring knife
  • a Y-shaped stick about an inch thick
  • scissors
  • leather, upholstery fabric, or denim (your old jeans would work!)
  • two 12-inch pieces of surgical tubing
  • dental floss
Make a slingshot

STEP ONE

Ask an adult to help you use a paring knife to carve a light groove an inch from the top of each branch of the Y. This will help your sling stay in place when you attach it.

Make a slingshot

STEP TWO

Cut a piece of leather or fabric about 3 1⁄2 inches by 2 inches. This will be the saddle. (The seed bomb rides in it.) Cut a hole in each end big enough to accommodate the surgical tubing.

STEP THREE

Thread one piece of surgical tubing 1 1⁄2 inches through one hole in the saddle. Double it over and use dental floss to tie it, then wind the floss around the joint about five times and knot it again. Do the same with the other piece of tubing and the other end of the saddle.

Make a slingshot

STEP FOUR

Attach the free end of each piece of tubing to the branches of the Y-stick. Wrap the end around the stick, leaving a tail 1 1⁄2 inches long, and fasten it with the dental floss as you did before. Now do the same with the other branch.

Make a slingshot

WHAT TO EXPECT

You’ll have a slingshot with a saddle wide enough to hold a seed bomb. Load a seed bomb into the saddle, pull it back, aim well, and release.

 

 

WHAT'S GOING ON

When you fire a slingshot, pulling back the elastic surgical tubing, the energy of your pull is stored in the elastic fibers and transferred to the seed bomb to release quickly.

 

GLITCH?

If your seed bomb falls apart while it flies out of the slingshot, experiment a little with its consistency. It may need to be dried more to harden it, or wetted again slightly to help it hold together. Consider freezing your seed balls before firing them. You might get them to fly farther, and they’ll thaw quickly once they land.

 

 

Photos by Matthew Rakola

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