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Have you ever wondered how a tiny little seed grows into a plant? Well, there's a special kind of seed, one you've probably eaten before, that's big enough for you to open up and see how it works: a bean!
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Seeds are amazing.

Even though they’re usually pretty small, on the inside they have everything a plant needs to start growing. Just one tiny little seed can grow into a house plant, a bush, or even a huge tree!

Today, we’re going to look inside a special kind of plant seed, one that you’ve probably even eaten before: a bean! That’s right! Beans are seeds!

Like other seeds, beans come from the flowers on a plant — in this case, bean plants. Beans may not look like tiny little flower seeds, or like hard watermelon seeds, but seeds come in all shapes in sizes! In fact, if you planted some dry beans like the kind you find in your kitchen, they might even grow into bean plants.

A seed has everything inside of it that a tiny plant needs to get started, but a lot of seeds are too small or hard for you to be able to look inside and see for yourself. Not beans, though! Since they’re nice and big, you can look inside and see how a seed works!

For this experiment, all you’ll need is a large dry bean, like a kidney bean or a pinto bean, a cup of water, and some time! Before you can see inside the bean, you’ll have to soften it up. When beans aren’t planted, they dry up and the outside of the seed gets really hard to protect the tiny plant inside.

But it’s easy to soften your bean: all you have to do is put it in water for a day or two. After that, the outside of the bean, which is called the seed coat, should be soft enough to open. Before you open it, though, take look at this spot where the seed coat is a different color.

That part of the bean has its own special name. It’s called the hilum, and it’s where the seed was attached to its parent plant. It’s basically the bean’s belly button!

Okay, now let’s open up the bean! It should separate in half pretty easily, but you can also ask a grown-up to cut it for you. That’s true, Squeaks!

That little thing poking out there does sort of look like a tiny plant, and that’s exactly what it is! It’s called the embryo. If you planted this bean in the ground, the embryo would poke out of the seed coat and grow up and out of the ground and into a new bean plant!

You might even be able to see tiny little leaves on the embryo. As a plant grows, these leaves turn green and help the plant collect the sunlight it uses to make food. The rest of the bean is made up of this solid white stuff, and it has a funny name: it’s called the cotyledon.

The cotyledon is basically stored-up plant food. It’s what the embryo will use for energy when it first starts to grow. Once the plant gets bigger, it’ll use its leaves and roots to collect the sunlight and water it needs to survive.

But first, it needs a little energy to grow big enough for its roots and leaves to take over. So the cotyledon gives the embryo the little boost it needs. When you eat a bean, your body also uses the cotyledon to give you energy!

So a bean may seem small and simple. But it’s really a seed, with lots of different parts that are meant to help it grow into a strong plant! All this talk about beans is making me pretty hungry… how about you, Squeaks? (Squeaks squeaks) Ahh!

Well, let’s go make a big pot of chili! (Squeaks squeaks) Do you have any questions about beans, seeds, or plants? Or maybe you have pictures of your own awesome garden you’d like to share with us? Grab a grownup to help you leave a comment below, or email us at!

And a big thanks to Google Making Science for helping us make this episode! Thanks for hanging out with us today, and we’ll see you next time here at the Fort!