Engaging with Literature on the
Influence of Music on Seed Germination
(and, Optionally, on People)
While engaging in this project, students could (depending on how
you phrase the assignment) engage with two areas of literature by
(1) reviewing research reports on the influence of music on seed
germination and/or (2) investigating studies on the influence of
music on people (refer to Table 1).
Since the 1960s, experiments have been done on the influence
of music on plant growth. It is of evolutionary importance that
plants can sense and respond to environmental stimuli such as
light, temperature, gravity, and touch (Telewski, 2006). The perception of sound by plants would, therefore, also hold evolutionary benefit. It has been shown that sound, as an external factor,
has a big influence on the biological index of plants (Bochu et
al., 1998; Zhao et al., 2000; Chowdhury et al., 2014), and studies
have reported enhanced seed germination in various seeds when
exposed to music. Additionally, Retallack and Broman (1973),
Vanol and Vaidya (2014), and others have shown that, during
controlled experiments, plants respond differently to different
types of music. Although the influence of sound waves on plant
tissues is still not well understood, several research studies provide compelling evidence that sound waves influence plant cell
morphology, biochemistry, and gene expression. It is important
that students engage in the tentativeness of science as a tenet.
Thus, it is vital that they engage with literature and realize that,
as the body of research evidence grows, plant physiologists are
developing a more nuanced understanding of the mechanisms of
action. Reasons for increased germination after exposure to music
offered in the literature are, among others, an increase in the concentration of metabolites (Chowdhury & Gupta, 2015); changes
in the elastic modulus and the viscosity coefficient of the plasmalemma (Wang et al., 2001); an increase in intercellular Ca2+ (part
of the secondary messenger system) that can change the activity of
membrane-bound enzymes (Wang et al., 2002; Teixeira da Silva
& Dobránszki, 2014); and altering the secondary structure of cell
wall proteins by changing amide I and amide II bonds (
Chowdhury et al., 2014). Miranda (2013) provides an overview of
research literature on the biological, psychological, and social
effects of music on people; students could also be asked to focus
on this aspect as part of their projects.
Project-Based Learning to Explore the
Influence of Music on Seed Germination
(Hands-on Lab Investigation) & on
People (Literature Study)
Krajcik and Shin (2016, p. 276) identify six features of project-based learning (Table 2), and it is recommended that you structure
this investigation taking cognizance of these.
Table 2. Suggestions for how to structure this project, based on the key features of project-based
learning identified by Krajcik and Shin (2016, p. 276).
Key Feature How This Could Be Addressed in the Classroom
Start with a driving question, a
problem to be solved.
I suggest that students work in a cooperative learning fashion, in small groups (see De
Beer & Petersen, 2017b). Each group should formulate a driving question or hypothesis
for the investigation, for example:
• Is there any scientific evidence that supports the Maranao custom of exposing seeds
to music to enhance germination?
• How do different music genres influence seed germination?
• Are all seeds (of different plant species) equally sensitive to music?
• What are the influences of different sound volumes and times of exposure to music
on seed germination?
• If you broaden the scope of the project to include humans, a driving question
could be “What are the biological, psychological, and social effects of music on
Focus on the key standards and
outcomes that should be achieved.
Students should engage with key standards. In this scientific inquiry, students will learn
more about the cell; biological evolution; matter, energy, and organization in living
systems; and behavior of organisms.
Students should explore the driving
question by participating in
Students will, when planning their investigations, identify all dependent and
independent variables. Based on their driving question, they might focus on how
different plant species respond to music or, alternatively, how bean seeds (Phaseolus
vulgaris) germinate when exposed to different genres of music.
There should be engagement in
collaborative activities to find
solutions to the driving question.
Students should also engage with other groups (who might have different
experimental designs) and, in the beginning stage of the project, critique the
experimental designs of other groups.