Seed Imbibition Lab


What is the mass and volume change of a seed when it imbibes water prior to germination?


Imbibition is the adsorbance of water by colloidal materials. Unlike osmosis, no membranes are involved. The surfaces of the colloids attract and hold water with intermolecular forces. These layers of adsorbed water push apart the materials and cause swelling. For example, wood will imbibe water and swell. This effect is used to create a sealed container for water, wine or spirits in wooden barrels. Water imbibed by seeds activate enzymes which begin digesting starches stored in the seed. This is the first steps towards germination of the seed.

Prediction / Hypothesis :

Complete standalone statement that answers the question.


  1. 15 dry seeds. Seed type: ________________
  2. (1) 100 ml graduated cylinder (also called a graduate).
  3. (1) balance.
  4. paper towels.
  5. sprouting container


A numbered list of the steps taken to carry out the lab. Written in your own words, the procedure would allow anyone to reproduce this lab.

Data Section:

Observations, charts, graphs, calculations and diagrams can be included here. Use a ruler to construct charts, graphs and data tables. Be sure the tables are clear, easy to read and are fully labeled and titled. Include units with measurements.


If a person had time to read only one section, the conclusion would provide them a clear understanding of what you did, why you did it, what the results were and what the implications are of those results.


  1. Mass the graduated cylinder.
  2. Mass graduated cylinder with seeds added.
  3. Determine the seed mass.
  4. Add water to the graduated cylinder until the volume is 90 ml.
  5. Mass the graduate with seeds and water.
  6. At the end of the period determine the volume of water absorbed.
  7. After 24 hours determine the volume of water absorbed.
  8. Pour off the remaining water, carefully dry the seeds with a paper towel and mass the hydrated seeds.
  9. Distribute the seeds in a petri dish containing a damp paper towel. Use a grease pen to write your name on the petri dish.

Data Section:

  1. ______________ mass of graduate
  2. ______________ mass of graduate + seeds
  3. ______________ initial mass of seeds
  4. ______________ mass of graduate + seeds + water
  5. ______________ initial volume of seeds
  6. ______________ end of period volume
  7. ______________ 24 hour volume
  8. ______________ amount of water absorbed by seeds
  9. ______________ final mass of seeds.