Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Pine Cone Science!

Arbor Day is a holiday celebrated in the spring, that encourages and inspires people to plant trees in their communities and learn the importance of trees on Earth. Even though we can not gather with others, check out some ways in which you can still participate in this “tree”rific holiday!

Pine cones play an important role in nature. Only found growing from pine trees, their function is to keep a the tree’s seeds safe! They close their scales to protect the seeds from cold temperatures, wind, or even animals, then open up to release their seeds when it is warm. This allows the seeds to germinate and grow into a pine tree. Check out this cool adaptation for yourself with the following experiment!


  • Three pine cones
  • Three medium bowls or jars
  • Paper and pencil
  • Hot and cold water


  1. Gather pine cones from your backyard, natural space or community. With a variety of different pine cones you can experiment further with this activity.
  2. Place one pine cone into each container. Label each container with either cold water, hot water or air.
  3. Pour cold water into the “cold water” jar, and hot water into the “hot water” jar (be sure to use adult supervisor for this step). Leave the jar labeled “air” empty.
  4. Observe what happens to the pine cones when they are exposed to different temperatures and conditions!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.