Pine Cone Weather Station

Today we are very excited to bring you a guest post from Rainy Day Mum.

Thank you to Science Sparks for inviting me to guest post on their blog today. You can find me over at Rainy Day Mum where I share play ideas, activities, crafts, learning experiences and fun for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. As a former Marine Biologist and Science Teacher I love the ideas that Science Sparks shares and really hope you have fun trying out our Pine Cone Weather Station idea.

 

pine cone weather forecast

We come back from every walk with a collection of natural find and in that collection there are always pine cones. So I decided to put them to some use and set up a weather station with them to predict what the weather will be like.

pine cone weather station

When the weather is dry the pine cones are open

Our weather station is set up on a window sil outside in our garden that we can see from another window in side the house so we can record what is going on with our pine cones each day. I have found out it’s a good idea to attach them to the window with some blu tack or modeling Clay so that they don’t fall over as the weather changes but apart from that the experiment is set up.

pine cones to tell when it will rain

Pine cones the day before it starts to heavily rain

When the weather is dry the pinecones open up and when it’s going to rain they close down. It’s a really fun way for children to start to think about the future and what the weather will be doing.

The science behind it.

Pine cones open and close depending on the humidity to help seed dispersal. Inside the pine cone there are lots of feather light seeds. When the weather is dry the pine cone opens up and any wind will catch the seeds and allow them to be dispersed in the air far away from the original tree.

When the humidity rises and rain is likely then the pine cone closes up to prevent the seeds escaping as being so light the seeds will become water logged and they will travel only a short distance from the original source which would be shaded and have to fight the “parent” tree for resources.

 

Cerys is a SAHM to two toddlers and blogs at Rainy Day Mum, where you can find a lots of fun activities to do with your children, including messy play, imaginative play, baking and crafts.

You can follow Cerys on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Rainy Day Mum

Author: Emma Vanstone

Science Sparks, is a site dedicated to making Science fun for kids. I’d love you to follow me on my Google Profile+.

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25 Comments

    • Thanks for posting Cerys! I love it. x

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    • What if you live in a very humid area? Will the experiment have the same effect/outcome? Very Cool By The Way :)

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    • Glad you like it :-)

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  1. How interesting! I have to share this lesson with not only my grandchildren who may already know it, but my great niece & nephew who are little! Thank you for sharing!

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  2. I’m to be a “First Time” Grandma (Next March) and have been looking for “nature/natural” things to teach and experience with my Grandchildren. I know, I know Little One hasn’t even been born but, the “Old Girl Scout” in me says: “Always be prepared.” Thank you for the information and I would love other information from you or Friend me on my facebook.
    Thank you again,
    Constance

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  3. wow the little things in life are very meaningful and helpful to all of us….thanks for your idea and thanks be to God for all the little things in nature that alot of us know nothing about…

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  4. Love this! I have noticed out pine cones doing this and never really “register” to explain to the children what is happening! Great post.

    Maggy

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  5. This is so cool! We will have to try it.

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  6. How cool is this! I didn’t know this about pine cones. Will pin it and share – thanks!

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  7. amazing! how long will they do this for? will they last a few months?

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    • You know, i’m not sure!

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    • We have had ours in the garden for around 6 months now and they are still opening and closing regularly as the weather changes.

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  8. Our pine cones aren’t closing up before it rains. Do we need to take pine cones right from pine trees rather than use ones collected from the ground? Thanks for any tips!

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    • Hi Carolyn, ours weren’t fresh from the tree and had been inside for a while before I put them out. A thought about why they may not be opening/closing is if they have been exposed to a high temperature then they will remain open. One of the ways to get them to stay open for displays is to bake them for 30 mins on a low temperature so this could have happened. It’s also very much species dependent and I’ve only had success with the type of pine cones above the ones that are giant or elongated and thin don’t work as well.

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      • Thank you for the response. We’ll try again with another species. Or perhaps the drought and high temps all summer affected this year’s pine cones. Good projects to investigage!

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  9. I really like this idea. I have just picked up pine cones on Spring Break. I had a few ideas in using them. Out of curiosity I searched yours and LOVE IT. I’m a teacher and look forward to having my students investigate and do the entire scientific research on this.

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  10. This is so cool! We also learning that when you put an open pine cone in water in closes up, probably for the same reason it closes up in the rain: to protect the seeds inside.
    Emma recently posted…Project: Powdered PaintMy Profile

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