Spring Fest At Home


Want to get a head start on Spring Fest? Work on these activities and unleash your child's inner creativity! Check back often for new activities you can do at home and during the event.

Print this at home and complete a tree scavenger hunt!

Tree Scavenger Hunt List activity page with images of local leaves 


Print this at home and make your own Origami Grasshopper!

Image or sketch with lines to fold for a green origami grasshopper  



A “seed ball” is an easy way to introduce native plants into spaces that require low maintenance. The compacted soil shaped into a ball (like a snowball) usually consists of clay, compost, water, and native seed species. The seeds are essentially “pre-planted” as the compost provides the seeds nutrients, and the clay provides the seeds protection from predators.

Roll them up, let them dry, and throw them! There is no need to plant or water seed balls. Distribute them on bare ground where they won’t land on top of established plants. Over time, rain will break down the ball and do the planting for you. When you make seed balls, it is important to choose plant species native to your area. Native species support pollinators and other wildlife, conserve water, and prevent soil erosion, all while playing a vital role in promoting biodiversity.

There are many recipes for seed balls, but here is one way to make them.


  1. Mix together one part clay to four parts compost. 
  2. Add a small amount of water at a time, just until the mixture starts to stick together. If you add too much water, it will be harder to work with. 
  3. Form balls of this mixture and add seeds into each ball. The balls can be any size and the number of seeds can vary, from two or three seeds in golf ball-sized balls to more seeds in larger-sized balls.
  4. Once the balls are formed, let them dry for about 24 hours.
  5. Disperse them!

More demonstrations

See students in the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication as they extract DNA from a strawberry and explore plant germination. You can also continue the learning with the Departments of Food Science, Biochemistry, and Horticulture and Landscape Architecture through a series of educational videos.

by C. Kohn, WUHS and Stacy Fritz, N


  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • ice-cold rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp Dawn dishwashing detergent
  • cheesecloth ;
  • Re-closable plastic sandwich bags       
  • test tube (or small glass jar)
  • 3 strawberries (green tops removed)
  • cup&
  • bamboo kabob skewer or Q-tip


  1. Mix the salt, water, and Dawn detergent in a glass or small bowl. Set the mixture aside. This is your extraction liquid.
  2. Line the funnel with the cheesecloth and put the funnel’s tube into the glass.
  3. Put the strawberries in the plastic bag and push out all the extra air. Seal it tightly.
  4. With your fingers, squeeze and smash the strawberry mixture for 2 minutes.
  5. Add 3 tablespoons of the extraction liquid you made in Step 2 to the strawberries in the bag. Push out all the extra air and reseal the bag.
  6. Squeeze the strawberry mixture with your fingers for 1 minute.
  7. Put cheesecloth over the funnel and place the funnel in your test tube. Pour the strawberry mixture from the bag into the funnel. Let it drip into the test tube until there is no liquid left in the funnel.
  8. Throw away the cheesecloth and the strawberry pulp inside. Pour out the contents of the test tube so it is 1/4 full.
  9. Tilt the test tube or jar and very slowly pour the cold rubbing alcohol down the side. The alcohol should form a layer on top of the strawberry liquid. (Don’t let the alcohol and strawberry liquid mix. The DNA collects between the two layers!).  Slowly add enough alcohol so that you have equal parts of both liquids.
  10. Dip the bamboo skewer into the test tube where the alcohol and strawberry layers meet. Pull up the skewer. The whitish, stringy stuff is DNA containing strawberry genes!


  1. What does mashing the strawberries and treating them with detergent do to their cells?
  2. What part of the cell did the DNA come from?
  3. Why can’t you see the double helix structure of DNA?
  4. A person cannot see a cotton thread 100 feet away, but if you wound thousands of threads together into a rope, it would be visible at some distance. How is this statement an analogy to our DNA extraction?
  5. Was this really DNA? Explain what you think and why:
  6. List and describe one thing that you found surprising or interesting that you learned from this lab

by Lucas Lyons and Kayla Bonert, Agricultural Science Education Majors.

General Objective:  To expose youth (and adults!) to the process of seed germination

Specific Objectives

  1. To learn the things needed for seed germination
  2. To make a living seed necklace to observe germination       

Time: 3-6 minutes


  1. Seed (radish, pea, bean, sunflower, corn – seed large enough to see and handle and will germinate relatively quickly)
  2. Cotton balls
  3. Micro-centrifuge tubes or small plastic craft or jewelry bags {find in bead or craft section at Wal-mart or other crafty type store} or clear food service gloves use the fingers to hold cotton balls),
  4. squirt bottles or spray bottles or water bottles with single small hole punched in cover
  5. water
  6. colored string or nylon cord
  7. scissors
  8. hole punch


Seeds are living things that include all the things to grow into a new plant. The seed includes the ‘embryo’, or the baby plant, with food resources, the ‘cotyledons’, that together will grow a new plant. Discuss the main things that seeds need to grow. Ask those participating what they think seeds need to grow. They are water, warmth, sun, soil, and oxygen. The participants (the youth) are providing the things the seed needs to grow with your living necklace.  Warmth from your body helps it get started.  Watch your seed germinate in the next few days.  What do you see?


If using a small plastic jewelry-sized bag, use a hole punch or scissors to put a hole below the zipper. This will allow air for the seed and a place to put the string to wear it.  If using a centrifuge tube, this step is omitted. 

Place the cotton ball into the tube (or bag) and make it slightly wet. If using a small plastic bag, moisten the cotton ball before inserting it.  It should be damp all the way through but not dripping (the seed will drown, just like people).  Next place the seed on top of the cotton ball.  If using a plastic bag, slide the cotton ball with the seed on stop into the bag.  Lay the cord or string (cut to a length appropriate for a youth, aprx. 2-3 feet) across the lid of the tube and snap it shut, or through the hole of a small plastic bag and zip it shut. Tie tightly in a knot. Wear it around the neck like a necklace.  Your body will provide the warmth to help the baby plant grow! 


  • Ag in the Classroom – “soy baby”  or “living necklace”
  • The Indianapolis Children’s Museum


2 - 50mL falcon tubes

1 popsicle stick

10 ml Elmer’s glue

Food coloring

10 ml saturated borax solution

10 ml water

Preparatory Steps

  1. Prepare saturated borax solution
  2. Mix borax into water at 0.01 g/mL (10 g/L) and microwave for 3 minutes
  3. Too little borax makes the slime sticky while too much borax makes the slime brittle
  4. Fill a 50mL falcon tube with 10mL of Elmer’s glue
  5. Fill a second 50mL falcon tube with 10mL of Elmer’s glue
  6. Add 10mL of water to the tube with glue in it


  1. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring to the tube with borax solution
  2. Ensure caps are on tightly before shaking both tubes
  3. Pour the colored tube with borax into the tube with glue and water
  4. Cap the tube
  5. Mix contents by shaking capped tube vigorously or use a popsicle stick to stir
  6. Remove slime from tube and play

Discovery Questions

  1. What do you think is in the tubes?
  2. Water, glue, and borax
  3. What is borax?
  4. A detergent used to clean
  5. Are these solids or liquids?
  6. Liquids
  7. If we mix these two liquids together, will we get a solid or liquid?
  8. Solid
  9. What do you think happened?
  10. Borax linked the glue polymers together


Glue is made of a molecule that looks like a bunch of long chains. Borax connects all of those chains making it stronger. The stronger molecules make a gooey solid instead of a liquid.

Advanced Explanation

Glue contains an ingredient called polyvinyl acetate that forms long chains making it a polymer. The term “polymer” comes from words that mean “many parts”. Those polymers aren’t connected to each other until the borax is added. Borax acts as a “cross-linker” which connects each of those chains to each other making a more solid slime compared to the liquid properties of glue. It does this using hydrogen bonding. Hydrogen bonds are fairly week, so they can be broken and reformed while playing with the slime.


1 – 50mL Falcon tube

10mL water

20mL vegetable oil

Food coloring

Alka Seltzer (1/4 of a tablet)

Preparatory Steps

  1. Fill the 50mL Falcon tube with 10mL of water
  2. Add 20mL of vegetable oil to the tube


  1. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring to the tube
  2. Add ¼ of a tablet of Alka Seltzer to the tube
  3. Watch. Do not cap the tube until the bubbling has stopped


Clearly water and oil do not mix. This is because water is polar and oil is not. It has to do with how the molecules are made. Water is shaped like a “V” and the electrons aren’t shared equally between the two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. This means one end is slightly negative and the other end is slightly positive. Oil isn’t like this and shares its electrons evenly between its carbon and hydrogen atoms. Polar molecules like water hang out with other polar molecules and nonpolar molecules like oil hang out with other nonpolar molecules.

Alka Seltzer reacts with the water at the bottom to make tiny bubbles or carbon dioxide. The bubbles grab onto the colored water as they float to the surface. At the top, the bubbles pop and the colored water will sink back down to the bottom.

Discovery Questions

  1. Why don’t the water and oil mix together?
  2. Water is polar and vegetable oil is nonpolar.
  3. Why does water sink to the bottom and oil stays on top?
  4. Water is denser than oil.
  5. Do you think food coloring is polar or nonpolar?
  6. Polar because it mixes with the water and not the oil.


12 oz cheese (no limits to the variety: we used fontina, bleu, and gouda)

2/3 cup of water

1 tablespoon of sodium citrate (found online as food ingredient)


  1. Shred cheese and set aside.
  2. Combine sodium citrate and water in small pot and whisk until sodium citrate is mostly dissolved.
  3. Simmer mixture—no need to boil.  Add one small handful of cheese and stir continuously as cheese melts.  Keep adding cheese, handful by handful.  Once all cheese is melted, mixture should be smooth and flowable.  If not, add water a tablespoon at a time while stirring until sauce is created.
  4. To use as a sauce: pour immediately onto food item (tortilla chips for nachos) or keep warm to use as a dip (fondue).
  5. To use as cheese slices: pour onto a wax-paper lined tray. Allow to chill in refrigerator (up to 1 week) and slice when ready.  Slices can be re-melted on top of a burger patty or as part of a grilled cheese sandwich.

So why use sodium citrate?

Many cheeses are not great at melting smoothly, and result in an oily, clumpy mess. If you have tried to heat an aged cheddar, you would likely have had this experience!  Sodium citrate is used to contribute to the protein solubility in the cheese while targeting a pH favorable for melting. It is found in many food products and can aid in including your favorite cheese into your next mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, nachos, or more!

New to transplanting a seedling to a larger pot?  Check this quick guide to getting started.

Find more resources through the Purdue Extension Online Resources for Gardeners page

or check this video series for First Time Gardeners