Growing Bean Plants for Science in Grade School: Experiments & Ideas

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Start With Growing One (Or a Dozen)

This is a very simple project. All you need for each plant is:

  • A dried bean seed (available from the grocery store)
  • Styrofoam cup
  • Paper towel

Although many people don’t know it, beans are a type of seed. You can use a bean to grow a bean plant in a simple paper towel science project. Just wet a paper towel and fold it up so that it will fit around the inner edge of a foam cup. Then slide a bean between the wet paper towel and the cup. Wet the towel every day, and you will soon see a green shoot emerging from your bean! Eventually, the shoot will turn into a plant. Bean plants grow relatively quickly, so they’re perfect for science experiments.

The Basic Experiment

Many classrooms do this basic bean plant experiment to examine the stages of the growth of a plant. Create three foam cups as described above. Place one in a very sunny area, one in a partially sunny area, and one in a dark area (such as the inside of a drawer or closet). Each day, compare the growth of the three plants. If possible, measure the plants daily and create a chart showing their respective growths. This experiment can help your students see the impact of sunlight on the growth of bean plants.


Because plants use sunlight to go through photosynthesis, a plant needs adequate sun in order to grow well. However, there are several different types of bean plant experiments that can help you explore their growth in more depth:

  • Water – Do bean plants grow better with a lot of water? A little water? Somewhere in between? Add different amounts of water to the paper towel each day to discover the ideal amount of water a bean plant needs to grow.
  • Fertilizer – Do fertilizers really help bean plants grow? Try different types of fertilizers and see which makes your bean plant grow the tallest and healthiest. Remember to grow one plant without fertilizer as a control.
  • Soil – Once your bean plants have shoots that are a decent size, try planting some of them in cups with different types of soil. You might want to try sand, dark soil, reddish soil, or whatever other types of earth you can find.
  • Music – Some people believe that music can help plants grow. Design an experiment to test this by giving some of the bean plants different amounts of music each day. Do those plants grow better than the ones that were not around music?

Looking for even more experiments? Try this lima bean plant experiment for preschool and leave your own ideas in the comments!

This post is part of the series: Winning Science Fair Projects

Looking for some winning science fair projects? The science fair project ideas in this series are the perfect place to start.

  1. Science Fair Projects That Use Paper Towels
  2. 3 Science Fair Projects About Renewable Energy: Conserving Earth’s Resources
  3. Plant Experiments in Elementary Science Class: Growing Bean Plants