For Educators

A Swell Activity with Beans
2.3/5 rating (3 votes)

Materials Needed

4 test vials with lids, 4-6 different types of dried beans and/or peas, waterproof marker, metric ruler, glue


1. Each student will select one of the types of dried beans or peas to study. Observe! What do your beans look like? How do their size, color and shape compare to the other kinds of dried beans?

2. Glue one sample bean of each variety to a sheet of paper.

3. Label the beans with their appropriate names and jot down some of the key characteristics of each. Have you ever wondered why some beans are named what they are?

4. Each student prepares a test vial containing one type of dried beans for comparison with the rest of the group. Using a metric ruler and a waterproof marker, draw a line on the outside of the plastic vial at a point that is 4 centimeters from the bottom. Count how many beans it takes to fill your test vial up to the 4 centimeter marking. Record the number of beans.

5. Measure and record the size of each bean that will be used to fill your vial to the 4 centimeter mark. What is the mass of your pile of beans? Put the beans back in the plastic vial.

6. What will happen to the beans in the plastic vial if water is added? Share your predictions with the other members of your group. Then, fill the vial to the top with water. Put the vial lid on securely and watch closely!

7. Keep track of the time your beans are soaking in water. What's happening to them? Notice their size, skin, texture, color and other features compared to the dry beans. Write a description of how your beans look at 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 30 minutes after adding the water! Draw a picture of your vial of beans soaking in water.


Now, explore! At the conclusion of this investigation, remove bean seeds from vials and put them in moist dishes to sprout. Transplant seeds into potting soil or garden after they begin to sprout leaves and watch them grow! Vials may be difficult to clean and reuse after this investigation. Soaking in warm, soapy water helps.

What's Going On

Continue observing the beans for the next couple of days. What's happening to the beans? Are they taking up more or less space in the test vial? What's happening to the water? Is it being absorbed by the beans? Draw an updated picture of your vial of beans. Measure your beans again. Has their size changed? Has the mass of your beans changed? What do you think would happen if you filled the vial with beans, added water and capped the vial tightly?

Ohio Content Standards

Scientific Inquiry: 2.7, 2.10, 4.4, 5.6
OSIC Codes: Y2002.CSC.S05.GKG-02.BC.L02.I07; Y2002.CSC.S05.GKG-02.BC.L02.I10; Y2002.CSC.S05.G03-05.BB.L04.I04; Y2002.CSC.S05.G03-05.BB.L05.I06
  • Added: November 29, 2011
  • Hits: 11507

Top Classroom Activities

  • Buoyant Bubble

    A sphere is a very special shape in nature. Liquids form into spheres due to internal forces. Investigate density and shape.
    Buoyant Bubble
  • Cabbage Patch Chemistry

    An indicator is a substance that can be used to determine pH of a substance. Make your own indicator using red cabbage leaves and test household items.
    Cabbage Patch Chemistry
  • What's the Buzz?

    Can a rubber band sound like a bee? How does changing the speed of a vibrating object affect the sound of the vibration?
    What's the Buzz?
  • Hover Cup

    Can you make a hovercraft from a paper cup? Explore how air flow can minimize friction and cause an object to move.
    Hover Cup
  • Catapult

    Catapults are great for demonstrating transfer of energy. Tension in the catapult will cause an object to travel very far.
  • Sidewalk Chalk

    Chalk is used in many applications and industries... more familiarly in the classroom. Make your own chalk and learn the science behind this incredible product.
    Sidewalk Chalk
  • Rock Candy

    Create a crystal pattern around a string that is also a tasty treat!

    Rock Candy