Looking for a fun science project? Try growing mushrooms! I’ve put together an oyster mushroom science kit so that you can try growing your own mushrooms at home without any special equipment needed. Includes a liquid culture of your choice, instructions/lesson plan, a vocabulary list, and a word search based on the vocabulary list. It’s a great biology lesson and a fascinating way to dive into the world of mushrooms without it being too overwhelming.
The Oyster varieties of mushroom are very forgiving and can be grown on many things, but a great way to start is by growing them in pre-cooked bags of plain brown rice – you can buy them at the grocery store for about $2 and just add the culture to the bag so that you don’t have to do any of the extra sterilization that you usually need to do for mushroom substrates. This is a very adaptable project for different age groups. Older students may enjoy the process of mixing/sterilizing their own substrate instead of using precooked rice (I can point you in the right direction if that’s something you’d prefer to try) In general, it’s a pretty low effort/high reward process that’s a really exciting way to learn about the world of fungi.
I have a fairly wide variety of oyster mushrooms to choose from, and you can choose to grow any kind that you’d like – use the dropdown menu to choose your varieties. It can be very interesting to grow several varieties side by side to observe the variations in timing and appearance as they grow.
For safety purposes, we’ve now adapted this to be a no-needles kit to make it accessible and fun for all ages:)
Here’s a 45-second speedthrough of the whole process:
Here’s a great how-to video that Della from The Beauty of Play recorded of their process using one of my kits last year (we still used needles to inject the liquid culture when this was filmed, so that part of the process has changed, but the rest is still accurate!)