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How to design a science fair project from scratch: day 4

Posted by on October 28, 2013

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Wow look at the difference by ONLY day 3 of the trial run. All of the mung beans in the control have sprouted while none of the mung beans in the low pH environment (i.e. with vinegar) sprouted. So – all other factors being equal – we could conclude that pH has a negative effect on mung bean sprouting!!

Control on right

Control on right

Remember that “plant projects” always get you a little extra credit for “effort” because they can’t be done in a day – but this one could be done in as little as 3 days.

Things I have learned:

*** pH has a negative effect (i.e. the project idea worked!!)

*** 1/2 cup of vinegar + 1/2 water = maximum amount of vinegar to use (since none sprouted)

*** soaking time not critical as long as its longer than minimum of 6 hours (remember I accidentally let them soak all night – but the control still sprouted 100%

*** too much cheese cloth makes rinsing difficult

*** mung beans are like glitter – they get everywhere!

*** pictures are important for documenting and for the backboard

*** I can eat the control mung beans when done!!


The design above will work for the basic design, but I would like to do a more advanced design and look for a dose-response relationship between the amount of vinegar (i.e. the pH level) and the amount of sprouting.

So I would do:

3 jars: Control (water; no vinegar)
3 jars: Low dose vinegar (highest pH level): 5 drops of vinegar into 1 cup of water
3 jars: Medium dose vinegar (medium pH level): 1 tablespoon of vinegar, fill to 1 cup with water.
3 jars: Highest dose of vinegar (lowest pH level = most acidic condition): 1/4 cup of vinegar, fill to cup line with water.

Also make a data sheet for observations and think about what to measure BESIDES number that spouted (e.g. size of sprouting, etc.). More data will mean more information that could lead to more experiments.

Control on right

Control on right

2 Responses to How to design a science fair project from scratch: day 4

  1. Sue Gasper

    In the trial run, you said you are rinsing both the control and the low pH sample with clean water. Are you then refilling the control with clean water and the low pH sample with the vinegar/water mix?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Great question – NO – the only time the mung beans are exposed to whatever condition you want to test (pH, salinity, carbonation, pesticide, vitamin, etc.) is during the first soaking period (recommended 6-8 hours; I left overnight for close to 18 hours and it still worked). All other times you don’t want the mung beans to be sitting in water. So, stick the jar and cheese cloth under running water, the jar will fill, then immediately dump the water out and repeat 2 more times to rinse the beans. In between rinses, the mung beans will be in the jar “wet” but not submerged.

      Hope that helps! I would love to see your results and photos if you do this experiment or a variation thereof.

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