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Bean Power

This experiment comes from tonight's supper. I have been craving a big pot of Great Northern Beans; so last night I put some into a pot of water to soak overnight. The results reminded me of a fun science experiment I had done before.

To try it, you will need:

  • a package of dry beans (any kind will do)
  • a drinking glass
  • water
  • a metal cookie sheet or cake pan

Fill the glass full of dry beans. Add enough water to fill it to the top, and place the glass in the center of the metal pan. Put it somewhere nearby, where it won't be in the way, and then go about your daily routine. After a few hours, you will hear a clink as one of the beans falls out of the glass onto the pan. Then you will hear another. Over the next few hours, you will continue to hear the sounds of the beans falling, so unless you are a heavy sleeper, don't try this at night. (And of course you would never hide your experiment in your sister's closet before bedtime!) You will find that the beans expand to more than twice their original size.

Why does that happen? The dry beans absorb the water to start the process of sprouting. The water softens the cells, and is absorbed into them by the process of osmosis. This causes the cells to expand, making the beans larger.

When your experiment is finished, put the beans into some water with some spices of your choice. Then bake some corn bread, and you are ready for a tasty treat.

Have a wonder-filled week.