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Why do the roots always grow down and the stems grow up?


1 small glass jar
Cotton balls
Several bean seeds


  • Soak the beans overnight in a small amount of water.
  • Fill the jar with cotton balls and add enough water to completely moisten the cotton.
  • At even intervals around the jar place the bean seeds between the cotton and the wall of the jar. Be sure to leave some space between the seeds.
  • Cap the jar and set in a spot that receives sunlight (You will not have to water the beans in the jar with it capped) .
  • As the seeds begin to sprout observe the direction the roots grow and the direction stem grows.
  • Turn the jar upside down and leave it there for at least a day or two.
  • Observe the direction the stem and the roots grow in when the jar is upside down.
  • Turn jar right side up again, leave it there for a day or two.
  • Observe the direction of the stem and the roots. Have they made any changes?


Plants are affected by gravity, so they do know which way is up and which way is down. Plants also know that water is found down in the ground and sunlight is found up in the sky. All plants need water and sunlight. The roots of a plant will always grow down to find water and the stem will always grow up to find sunlight so the plant can produce food through photosynthesis.

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