Science Project
Clarence Williams, age 10
March 2002

The Embryo Just Cant Say NO!


2a. I will understand structure and function in living systems.
2c. I will understand how organisms respond to environmental stimuli
4a. I will understand and explain the concepts of form and function; how things change and how they stay the same; and cause and effect.
5c. I will be able to use evidence from reliable sources to develop descriptions, explanations, and models.
6d. I will be able to gather information from multiple sources.
7a. I will be able to represent data in multiple ways.
7b. I will be able to support my argument with evidence.
7c. I will be able to communicate in a form that is appropriate for the audience and the purpose.


I have a cousin that has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This was the result of my aunt drinking alcohol when she was pregnant. I also see commercial on TV telling women not to drink alcohol and not to smoke cigarette when they are pregnant. They say it is harmful to the baby. Well my research is to find out if Alcohol and tobacco will hurt a plant embryo in the same way that they hurt the human embryo.

FAS Charasteristics:

* Delayed Development or Intellectual Impairment
* Reduced growth before or after birth
* Small Head & Eyes
* Thin Upper Lips
* Flat Cheekbones
* Narrow, Small Eye openings
* Small Jaw
* Holes between the two sides of the heart
* Decreased joint movement


At first I thought that if I soaked lima beans in any kind of liquid the bean would grow. I used:


15 lima beans
3 clear jar (for germinating)
20 plastic cups
1/2 cup of water (usual liquid use to germinate a seed)
1/2 cup of milk (the best drink for someone that is pregnant)
1/2 cup of rum
1/2 cup of beer
1/2 cup of cigarette smoke water (smoke extracted by Dr. Logan in her lab)
3 sheets of paper towel (to line the 3 jars for germinating beans)
labels (to identify what bean was soaked in which liquid) marker or pen (to write on the label)


The experiment was tried 3 times to see if I would get the same result. I took 5 plastic cups and placed 3 lima beans in each cup. I marked each cup with one of the liquid I was using and in the marked cup I put the liquid that I wrote on it.

So, I filled 1 cup with 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup with 1/2 of milk, 1 cup with 1/2 of rum, 1 cup with 1/2 cup of beer, and 1 cup with the cigarette water. Next I left the beans soaking for 24 hours (1 day). I started at 8 O'clock in the morning so at 8 O'clock the next morning the seeds were ready to germinate.

I folded each sheet of the paper towel in 3 so that none of it hung out. Next I wet each paper towel with water. After that I put one sheet of paper towel in each jar so that it stuck to the wall. I labeled each jar with the name of the 5 liquids that I used. I took one of the lima bean from each liquid and place it between the wet paper towel and the jar next to the label that said the liquid. Each jar is checked everyday for growth and recorded on a chart.


LIQUID (Bean was soaked in for 24 hours)
Beer - No
Rum - No
Water - Yes (After 2 weeks)
Milk - Yes (2 days to 1 week)
Cigarette Water - No

I found out that first, an embryo does not have a choice as to what it eats or drinks. Just like the lima beans, someone had to feed it with what it ate. The human baby eats what the mother eats through the placenta. Secondly, I found out that alcohol (that is in the rum and the beer) and tobacco and nicotine (that is in cigarette) could hurt a plant embryo (lima bean) in the same way it hurt a human embryo (baby). As you can see, if the embryo drank any kind of alcohol and is exposed to tobacco and nicotine at an early age it will damage its growth.


When a woman is pregnant she must be careful of what she eats and drink. In my project all 3 times, the lima beans soaked in alcohol and cigarette water did not germinate. The 3 lima beans soaked in regular water germinate but it took 2 weeks or more. However, the 3 lima beans soaked in milk germinated in less than 1 week. From my project I can now tell a pregnant woman to drink more milk and that drinking alcohol and smoking during pregnancy is dangerous for the baby.

There is a connection between physical defects among newborns and when their mother smoking or drink alcohol during pregnancy. Some of these conditions last for as long as they live. Smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy is believed to be the possible causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is when the baby dies while sleeping with no apparent reason.


* Smoking may cause the mother to lose the baby before it is born. This is called a miscarriage.
* Children born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy may have trouble learning.
* Smoking can cause a baby's heart, lungs or other organs to be damaged.
* Baby may have behavioral problem


* Baby can be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) that can cause a baby to look different than normal babies.
* The baby may be below normal size and weight at birth. Affected children never 'catch up' in later life.
* Physical appearance could include a small head, narrow flat nose, and thin upper lip.
* Bones, muscle, skin, eyes, heart and sex organs could be damaged
* Baby usually restless, irritable, have poor coordination and hyperactive.
* Child may suffer from mild to moderate retardation and learning disability

In my project the seeds soaked in alcohol just didn't grow. As a matter of fact, the one soaked in rum stayed the same size as when it was first planted. It got soft and mashed away. The one soaked in beer swollen up and then got soft and melted away. The seeds soaked in cigarette water just got black and then mashed away. The ones soaked in regular water and milk grew.


Thanks to Ms. Debra Logan and her daughter Cherelle Gadsden a student at St. Luke School in the Bronx for giving me the idea of the project. Thanks to my Mother for helping me on the computer with my research. To my father and my brothers who helped me to put my board together. Thanks also to Dr. Loretta Logan for getting the cigarette smoke water for my project. Thanks to Fialro Loaiza the WIC Coordinator at North General Hospital in Manhattan for the books and poster on pregnancy. Also thanks to Mr. Taino Soba for drawing the picture of the seeds soaking in the liquids.


1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Pregnancy Basics: Your Complete Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, 1999
2. American Council of Science and Health, Cigarettes: What the Warning Label Doesn't Tell You, , United States, 1/00
3. Citizens Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, Having a Baby: A Family Guide to Pregnancy, 5/94
4. Kitzinger, Sheila, The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, US
5. The Guest Choice Network, GCN: Nanny War on Alcohol, United States
6. The Guest Choice Network, GCN: Nanny War on Cigarette, United States

The FAS Community Resource Center hereby awards Clarence Williams a gold medal award for his outstanding project which plays an important role in raising awareness about the dangers of drinking alcohol and smoking during pregnancy. Oh behalf of all developing embryos, whether they are lima beans or human beings, thank you and congratulations to Clarence Williams of Public School 140 in Queens, District 28.

Congratulations, Clarence, on a job well done!
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