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Ionizing radiation and plant growthFeatured science projectScience project video


This science fair project was performed to examine the effect of ionizing radiation on plant growth. The testing was done by exposing the seeds of green beans to X-ray radiation for different lengths of time.


Overexposure to X-rays will cause tissue damage, and prevent green beans from germinating.

Scientific Terms

Ionizing radiation, electromagnetic waves, subatomic particles, ionize, ultraviolet rays, X-ray, gamma rays, Geiger counter


Ionizing radiation

Ionizing radiation produces strong electromagnetic waves or subatomic particles that contain enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules by causing a detachment of electrons. The ionization will only occur if the electromagnetic wave or particle contains enough energy for the electron to become detached.

Sources of the ionizing radiation are radioactive materials, particle accelerators, X-ray tubes. Ionizing radiation is also present in the environment in the form of ultraviolet rays and cosmic rays. Ionizing radiation is not visible to the naked eye and is normally detected using a Geiger counter. Examples of ionizing radiation are high frequency ultraviolet rays, X-rays and gamma rays.

Ionizing radiation has found applications in fields of research, medicine, energy amongst others. However, it must be handled safely and carefully because exposure can cause damage to living tissue, radiation sickness, skin burn and even death. It has also been problem to cause cancer and genetic mutations. Ionizing radiation also affects seed germination and plant growth. Seeds that are exposed to high levels of radiation will not sprout or grow.

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