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  • Hurrying Spring: How to Force Bulbs in Your Classroom

    While waiting for your garden to grow, use this time to grow bulbs experimentally in the classroom. "Forcing" flower bulbs is a way to get the bulbs to grow and bloom indoors-- bringing you an early breath of spring! Forcing tulip bulbs can be a little tricky, so we recommend forcing a bulb that is almost a sure thing--the paperwhite.

    Instructions For Forcing Paperwhites
    1. Fill a dish or bowl (without holes) with pebbles or marbles. The dish or bowl should be two and one/half or more inches deep. (Cool Whip containers work well, avoid unglazed clay pots because the water will seep through)

    2. Set bulbs, pointed end up, half into pebbles or marbles.

    3. Add water to cover the lower one-third of the bulbs.

    4. Place in bright light or sunny location.

    5. Replenish water as needed to the bottom of bulbs.

    6. It should take approximately 3-4 weeks to bloom.

    Paperwhites should be readily available at any garden center or store. Approximate cost for a bag of 5 paperwhites is $2.99 and pebbles are approximately $ 1.99 bag.

    Experiment, Experiment, Experiment!
    1) As a class, have students brainstorm all the possible variables that might affect the paperwhite's rate of growth.

    2) Go through the list you created. Ask students how they might design an experiment to test each variable on the list.

    3) How much heat does it take for paperwhites to grow and bloom? You can use the today's "Growing Degree Day" lesson indoors. Ask students to predict GDD values for both paperwhites and tulips. Which plant do they think will require more heat? After the indoor experiments, have students revise their GDD predictions for tulips.