Soggy Science, Shaken Beans
Ages 5 and older.
Have you ever heard of soy sauce, soy milk, or tofu? Soybeans are plants used
to make these foods. Soybeans can be many different colors (black, brown, gray,
and yellow). Soybeans are nutritious, so people and some animals use them as
food. They are even used to make some kinds of crayons. Percy Julian used
soybeans to make medicines, special paints, and other items. In this activity,
you will observe and learn about soybeans, then make a shaker that has soybeans
You Will Need
- 1/2 cup dry soybeans soaked overnight in water (purchase at Asian
- about 25 dry soybeans (in one of the 3-oz cups)
- empty paper towel or toilet paper cardboard tube
- two 3-oz paper cups
- magnifying glass
- masking tape
- crayons or markers
- optional: string, feathers, and glue for decorating shaker
What to Do
Use a magnifying glass.
- Look closely at the dry soybeans. What do they look like? What color are
they? What do they feel like? Are they all the same size?
- Next, look at a soybean that has been soaked in water for 2 or 3 days. How
has the water changed the soybean? Peel the covering. This is the seed coat.
Why do you think it is called a coat? Why do you think the bean has a coat?
- Use your fingers to pry open the soybean to see the inside of it (an adult
may have to help you). What color is the inside? What does it look like? What
does it feel like? Do you see something that looks like a baby plant?
- Make soybeans shakers.
- Draw colorful designs or patterns on the tube.
- Place the bottom of a cup into one end of the tube (see picture).
- Tape the cup to the tube.
- Gently pour the dry soybeans into the tube.
- Hold the tube so that the open end faces up and the soybeans stay inside
- Place the bottom of the second cup into the open end of the tube, and
tape this cup to the tube.
- Shake away!
Field of Beans
by Soni Ware. Berry Books, 1999.
Describes various uses for soybeans and includes an activity.
by Anne Rockwell and Megan Halsey (Illustrator). Walker, 1998.
Describes how a bean sprouts and includes three bean activities.
North Carolina Soybean Producers Association—Connections for
Explains the history of soybeans and how soybeans are grown, used, and
processed. Includes a word search, soybean quiz, and science experiments.
Percy Julian and Soybeans
Percy Julian was a teacher and a scientist. As a scientist, he separated
chemicals from soybeans that were eventually used to make many things such as
medicines, foam to put out fires, paper coatings, and paints.
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Created January 2007