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written by
Pamela Emery
for the
California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom
in cooperation with the
California Department of Food and Agriculture
California Farm Bureau Federation
Fertilizer Inspectlon Advisory Board
Fertilizer Research and Education Program
Richard Engel, Key Editor
Margaret Anderson
Carolyn McClelland
I l l ustrators
Jack Armstrong
Karin Bakotich
Sherri Freeman
c2dhmia. kunda~ For
1601 Exposition Boulevard
Saaamento, CA 95815
(916) 924-4380
Acknowledgements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..~.........
Getting Started:
Unit Overview ............................................................................................................ 5
Time Requirements .................................................................................................... 7
Materials List ............................................................................................................. 8
Growing Plants in the Classroom............................................................................... 9
Laboratory Management Tips..................................................................................... 13
Organizing Student Work ........................................................................................... 16
Student Literature Guide ............................................................................................ 18
Lessons: -
I Need... I Want!........................................................................................................... 19
Plant Parts.................................................................................................................. 25
Water! Water! Wonderful Water!............................................................................... 29
Let The Sunshine lnr.................................................................................................... 32
Whose Picture Will Be On The Next Box Of Wheaties?............................................. 36
Im Superb Soil--Not Dirty Dirt!.............................................................................. 43
Grow Bean Growl......................................................................................................... 49
Air It Out!.................................................................................................................... 54
Plant Puzzle ............................................................................................................... 56
Waters Waters Water--Or Is It3............................................................................. 61
My Root Has Hair........................................................................................................ 64
Dirt Made My Lunch... Now Lunch Will Make My Dirt .............................................. 67
Galactic Ginny............................................................................................................. 77
Teacher Resources:
Templates ................................................................................................................... 78
Answers To Commonly Asked Questions ..................................................................... 81
Educational Resources ................................................................................................ 83
Background References .............................................................................................. 85
Useful Organizations and Companies .......................................................................... 88
Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ....... 90
*This document is printed on recycled paper.
This unit was funded by a grant from the Fertilizer Research and Education Program, California Foundation for
Agriculture in the Classroom, California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Fertilizer Inspection and
Advisory Board.
*The Fertilizer Research and Education Program provides funding to conduct research and education projects
directed toward the environmentally safe and agronomically sound use and handling of fertilizer materials.
*The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is dedicated to fostering a greater public
knowledge of the agricultural industry and seeks to enlighten students, educators, and leaders in the public
and private sector about agricultures vital, yet sometimes forgotten, role in American society and the effect
all citizens have on agricultures well being.
This series of units includes:
What Do Plants Need To Grow? for Grades 2- 4
How Much Is Too Much? How Little Is loo Little? for Grades 5-8
The Interrelationships of Soil, Water and Fortiiizers And How
for Grades 9-12
We would like to thank the following people who helped create, write, revise,
Their comments and recommendations contributed significantly to this unit.
does not necessarily imply endorsement of all statements in this document.
They Affect Plant Growth
and edit this series of lessons.
However, their participation
Christine Albanese Faylla Chapman
El Gabilin Elementary School
Salinas City Elementary Schobls
Laguna Middle School
San Luis Coastal Unified Schools
Salinas, CA Los Osos, CA
Lois Andre-Bechely Jerry Delsol
Carthey Center Elementary School Douglass Junior High School
Los Angeles Unified School District Woodland Joint Unified Schools
Los Angeles, CA Woodland, CA
Jacques Franc0
Agricultural Resources Specialist
California Department of Food and
Sacramento, CA
Jenlane Gee
Sipherd Elementary School
Empire Union School District
Modesto, CA
Joanne Borovoy
John B. Reibli Elementary School
Mark West Union School District
Santa Rosa, CA
Francine Bradley, Ph.D.
Cooperative Extension Avian
Sciences Specialist
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA
Carl Bruice
John Taylor Fertilizers Company
Sacramento, CA
Lucas Calpouzos, PhiD.
Former Dean of Agriculture
. California State University, Chico
Chico, CA
Mary Ellis
Bannon Creek Elementary School
Natomas Union Elementary Schools
Sacramento, CA
Richard Engel
Woodland High School
Woodland Joint Unified Schools
Woodland, CA
Gail Feenstra
University of California
Sustainable Agriculture Research
and Education Program
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA
Karen Holtman
Reibli School
Mark West Union School District
Santa Rosa, CA
Wendy Jenks
Director of Programs
California Fertilizer Institute
Sacramento, CA
Regional Supervisor, Ag Education
California Department of Education
Sacramento, CA
Mark Linder
Executive Director
California Foundation for
Agriculture in the Classroom
Sacramento, CA
Roger White
Elementary School Teacher
San Francisco Unified District
San Francisco, CA
Nancy Stevens
San Rafael High School
San Rafael City High School
San Rafael, CA
Albert E. Ludwick
Director of Western U.S. and
Potash and Phosphate Institute
Mill Valley, CA
Jim Young
Program Manager
E.A. Fairbairn Water Treatment
Sacramento, CA
Debbie Stroh
Project Coordinator
California Foundation for
Agriculture in the Classroom
Sacramento, CA
Kurt Ohlinger
Process Control Engineer
Sacramento Regional Wastewater
Treatment Plant
Sacramento, CA
California Foundation for
Agriculture in the
Classroom Staff
Donica OLaughlin
Durham Elementary School
Durham Unified School District
Chico, CA
Laura Tower
Project Coordinator
California Foundation for
Agriculture in the Classroom
Sacramento, CA
Mark Linder
Executive Director
Michael Pease
Evergreen School
Evergreen Union Elementary
School District
Cotton wood, CA
Karen Traiger
Graystone Elementary School
San Jose Unified School District
San Jose, CA
Jennifer Harrison
Assistant Director
Debbie Stroh
Project Coordinator
Stuart Pettygrove
Cooperative Extension Soil
University of California
Davis, CA .
Paula Tsou
Carthey Center Elementary School
Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles, CA
Laura Tower
Project Coordinator
Judy Culbertson
Project Supervisor Karen Van Gerpen
Eliot Elementary School
Gilroy Unified School District
Gilroy, CA
John Pichinino
Charles Goethe Middle School
Sacramento City Unified School
Sacramento, CA
Lyn Hyatt
Administrative Assistant
Denise Van Horn
Elementary School Teacher
Merced County
Atwater, CA
Katrina Duncan
Office Assistant
Li sa Roberts-Alvin
Valley Oak Elementary School
Davis Joint Unified School District
Davis, CA
Mari e Tolley
Project Assistant
John Vogt
Fairfield High School
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School
Fairfield, CA
Clare Rosander
Sandrini Elementary School
Panama-Buena Vista Union School
Bakersfield, CA
*Denotes pilot testers
Gil Walker
Gibson ElementarySchool
Woodland Joint Unified Schools
Woodland, CA
Wynette Sills
Pleasant Grove, CA
Judy Wheatley
Water Education Foundation
Sacramento. CA
Roger Sitken
Linden, CA
Welcome to the wonderful world of science and agriculture!
The Science Framework for California Public Schools emphasizes the need to make science
education more meaningful to students so they can apply what they learn in the classroom to their
daily lives. This unit helps students connect the science they learn to the food they eat and the
clothes they wear. Agriculture is an enormous industry in the United States, especially in
California, and it affects the lives of all children. Throughout this unit, you will see your students
intrinsically excited about learning how food and fiber are produced. As more rural areas become
urbanized and more challenges exist to maintain and improve the quality of our planet and feed the
people of the world, it is extremely important to educate children about their environment and
about agriculture. This science unit is another tool you can use to enlighten your students about
the world in which they live!
This unit, What Do Plants Need To Grow? is structured to encourage students and teachers to
construct their own knowledge about plants and their environment. This means that students
become conscious of their own conceptions concerning a topic, challenge those conceptions through
experimentation and then apply those thoughts to a new situation. There is a lot of room for
freedom and creativity in this unit yet enough guidance for success. Do not feel tied to using the
handouts provided. Teach the concepts in any order. Do not be afraid to grow plants and try new
ideas. Encourage your students to create experiments that will either confirm or disprove their
ideas. If you provide well-managed labs and allow creativity at the same time, your students will
appreciate the hands-on approach to learning science and will be encouraged to further their
science education.
The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is dedicated to fostering a greater
public knowledge of the agricultural industry and seeks to enlighten students, educators, and
leaders in the public and private sector about agricultures vital, yet sometimes forgotten, role in
American society and the effect all citizens have on agricultures well being. Please contact us if
we can assist you with the integration of agriculture into your curriculum.
Through a series of scientific experiments and activities, the students will learn that plants
are living things that require water, air, light and nutrients for survival. Students will
also examine relationships between plants and other living and non-living things.
l Systems and Interactions
l Patterns of Change
l Ener gy
l Scale and Structure
l St abi l i t y l Evol ut i on
(References to the Science Framework for California Public Schools will be made in each lesson)
l Plants consist of 6 basic parts - leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Each
part of the plant has ah important function.
l All living things require specific nutrients for growth and reproduction, however, not
all living things require the same nutrients, obtain nutrients or use nutrients in the
same ways. Plants require 16 specific chemical elements.
l Plants must kave light, water, and air to make food for themselves.
l Soil is a grocery store for plants; it is a warehouse of plant nutrients. As plant roots
grow in the soil, they absorb nutrients and water that are required by the plants.
l Soils and water vary, thus, they differ in the types and amounts of nutrients that are
available to plants.
l Farmers and gardeners must make sure that the soil plants are grown in contain all of
the required nutrients. Soils are amended with nutrients when necessary.
l Animals, including humans, are ultimately dependent on plants for survival.
The students will:
Identify the basic parts of plants.
Identify the differences between the requirements of plants and animals.
Demonstrate that plants require sunlight.
Determine that plants require appropriate amounts of water for survival.
Analyze how plant growth is affected by soil type.
Analyze soil and build a soil model.
Determine the effects of fertilizers on plant growth.
Develop an experiment that could test the hypothesis that plants need air.
Observe roots and determine that roots absorb nutrients and water to be used by the rest of
the plant.
Understand how decomposers are part of the soil formation process.
Describe newly gained knowledge while writing or drawing a story.
Build a plant out of construction paper. As your students learn what plants need (sunlight,
water, air, nutrients), add a picture of each item to your display.
Make a unique display of new words your students learn.
Make a large bowl out of butcher paper. Fill the bowl with information your students learn.
Call it The Salad of Knowledge. At the end of the unit, make a real salad for your students
to enjoy. Discuss how the salad parts grew.
Make a soil model. Have each student make a different component out of paper. (See Im
Superb Soil-Not Dirty Dirt lesson.)
These activities can be completed in a variety fi4 sequences. Skim over the entire unit before
beginning it with your students. Pick out a sequence which will work best for you. Make
sure you plan ahead so that short term activities can occur between longer experiments. One
sample sequence is listed below.
Several student assessment tools
well as the portfolios or journals
students knowledge.
are built into this unit. The Galactic Ginny lesson, as
your students. create, will be useful in evaluating your
GENERAL TIME FRAME: This unit works best if spread over a nine to ten week time period. This
allows time for plants to grow and to teach related scientific topics. After reviewing the lessons,
make a timeline that will work for you. If time is at a premium, you can use store purchased plant
seedlings for many experiments. However, make sure that your students have at least two
opportunities to grow plants from seeds so they get the full understanding of plant life-cycles.
I Need... I Want
2-3 thirty-minute sessions
*Dirt Made My Lunch...Now Lunch Will Make My Dirt!
1 forty-minute session--introduction and set up
5-l 5 weeks--observation time
*Plant Parts
2 forty-minute sessions *Galactic Ginny
1 forty-minute session
*Water! Water! Wonderful Water!
20-30 minutes--introduction and set-up
5-10 minutes per day for 5 days--observations and watering
15 minutes--conclusion
Let The Sunshine In!
1 forty-minute session--introduction, planting and predicting
10 minutes daily for two weeks--observations and watering
1 twenty-minute session--conclusion
*Whose Picture Will Be On The Next Box Of Wheaties?
2 forty-minute sessions--introduction and activity
10 minutes daily for three weeks--obsen/ations and watering
1 forty-minute session--conclusion
Im Superb Soil--Not Dirty Dirt!
1 fifty-minute session--introduction and activity
1 twenty minute session-snack soil model and conclusion
*Grow Bean Grow!
1 forty-minute session--introduction and set-up
10 minutes daily for two weeks--observations and watering
l_ twenty-minute session--conclusion
*Air It Out!
l-2 forty-minute sessions
(2 weeks of observations if optional experiments are performed)
*Plant Puzzle
1 thirty-minute session
Waters Waters Water--Or Is It?
1 thirty-minute session--introduction and set-up
10 minutes daily for one week--observations and watering
1 twenty-minute session--conclusion
*My Root Has Hair!
1 forty-minute session--introduction and set-up
5-10 minutes daily for five days--observation and watering
1 thirty-minute session--activity and conclusion
Specific quantities of materials are listed at the beginning of each individual lesson. The list below
gives you an overview of what materials are necessary to complete the entire unit.
Requi r ed I t ems .
I gallon plastic water or milk bottles
IL-liter soda bottles
10 milliliter or 25 milliliter test tubes
baby food jars with lids
blank paper
broad tip marking pen
butcher paper
cereal box
clay-like soil
construction paper
cups-clear, plastic and wax lined paper
darkness--a place where no light is present
distilled water
drain pans for plants
eye droppers
fertilizer--houseplant type
glue or paste
hand lenses
hand puppet
labels--see Growing Plants In The Classroom
light source
lima beans
marking pens or crayons
milk cartons-school size
old magazines
old newspapers
overhead projector
overhead projector pen
overhead transparencies
paper towels
. peat moss
penc i l s - 42
perlite-see Growing Plants In The Classroom
plant seedlings-either purchased or grown ahead of
planting pots--see Growing Plants In The Classroom
potting soil
resealable plastic bags--sandwich size
scotch tape test tube racks to fit test tubes
vermiculite--see Growing Plants In The
wheat or mm seeds
worksheets-- provided in this unit
writing paper
Optional Items
5-l 0 gallon aquarium
cat litter
colored pencils
compost bin--purchased or handmade
Dirt Made My Lunch music cassette (see
Educational Resources)
kitchen waste
lawn clippings
spray bottles
tape recorder
tree or shrub to be planted at school
video camera
All Instructors should read this sectlon before beglnnlng this unit. There are
many tlps mentioned here that pertain speclflcally to the lessons In this handbook.
Refer to this sectlon, when necessary, as you complete the varlous activities with
your students.
There are a variety of ways to successfully grow plants in a classroom. If you already have a
successful set-up, use it for this unit. if you have never grown plants in your classroom,
experiment with the following guidelines and see what works best in your particular situation.
You will find that your students can successfully grow plants indoors if they are given proper
guidance and are able to learn from their mistakes. Remember, students (and teachers!) learn
just as much, if not more, when an experiment does not turn out as expected!
Growing plants with students can be a community project, There are many resource people in your
community who can assist you with your efforts. You will be surprised how much assistance you
will receive, financially, as well as physically, if you just ask. Local gardening clubs, garden and
florist shops, University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, local farmers and
4-H and FFA organizations have knowledgeable personnel. Sometimes farming or gardening
equipment that can be loaned out or donated. You might also ask various community clubs and
organizations such as Kiwanis, Lions, your Chamber of Commerce and county Farm Bureaus for
financial support. The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom has a resource guide
that can assist you in finding free or low cost educational resources. See the Teacher Resource
section of this handbook for specific names and addresses of helpful organizations.
Plants should have proper light for approximately 8-10 hours each day. Overhead classroom
fluorescent lights provide enough light for starting seeds and growing small seedlings. However,
they do not provide enough light for the rapidly growing phases of plant life. The following list
mentions ways you can make sure your plants receive enough light.
l The best set-up is a light source of incandescent or fluorescent lights that is no higher than 2
feet above the growing plants. Desk lamps or simple grow-lights, purchased from a garden
center, work well.
l Sunlight from sunny windows will provide enough light for bean plants, however, corn and
. wheat plants require more light. If necessary, students can take their plants outside in the
morning and return them to the classroom in the afternoon. When the students are
transporting them, make sure they are careful not to touch or break the plants and the plants
are protected from high winds and other students.
l There are a variety of elaborate plant l grow labs that can be purchased from scientific supply
companies such as NASCO West, Carolina Biological Supply Company and Frey Scientific
Company. If you are in an older school, you might even be able to find bits and pieces of old
grow labs--use them to build a unique grow-lab of your own.
There are a variety of small planting pots (approximately 2-3 inches in diameter) that can be
purchased at garden centers or from scientific supply companies. However, it is not necessary to
use true planting pots. Remember, plants require drainage so holes should be in the bottom or
lower sides of any pot you use. Pots should be placed on jelly roll pans, aluminum pie plates or
other water proof trays so that the overflow water will not spill onto unprotected areas. Use
separate drainage pans for pots watered with different types of solutions. All pits should be washed
thoroughly, with clean water, before each planting.
Suggestions for inexpensive pots:
l Well-rinsed school milk cartons with 2 holes poked in the bottom with a nail.
l 5ounce wax-lined paper cups with 2 holes poked in the bottom with a nail.
l Donated cups from fast-food restaurants with holes poked in the bottom.
l 9 ounce clear plastic cups-instructors can make holes in the bottom of these cups by heating a
nail over an open gas flame then placing the nail through the bottom of each cup.
l 4 pots gathered from neighbors and nurseries who have transplanted bedding plants. Be sure
to wash the containers thoroughly before using them.
Peat pots are available at most garden centers. These pots cannot be re-used and should not be used
for most experiments in this unit. The pots have nutrients in them and can alter your data and
usually do not last longer than 2-3 weeks. However, peat pots are convenient to transplant
seedlings into their own home gardens.
All pots and solutions should be labeled clearly. Pencils, ball point pens, laundry pens and permanent
markers can be used. Test the pens or pencils yourself, before having your students make labels.
Possible label ideas are listed below.
Masking tape--Students can place the masking tape on their tables, write the necessary items on
the tape and then place it on the planting pot. Test the masking tape you would like to use before
distributing it to students. Masking tapes vary--some may be too adhesive, others not adhesive
enough, and some may not be easy to write on.
File folder labels--These can be purchased at most stationery and department stores. These
are handy for experiments lasting no more than 1-2 weeks. These labels are not recommended for
long term experiments or for use on clay pots.
Paper labels--Handmade labels can be made by using scrap pieces of construction or binder
paper. Scotch tape can be placed over the labels to make them waterproof and to adhere the labels
to the pots. The frosted-type is easier to remove than cellophane tape.
Grease pencils--The need for labels can sometimes be avoided if grease pencils are available.
They can be purchased at stationery stores or from scientific supply companies. These pencils can
be used for teacher demonstration labels, but are not recommended when students will be handling
the pots frequently.
There are many types of soils available at garden centers.
The experiments in this unit require a
variety of soils. Using soil gathered from local surroundings will be suitable for some experiments,
however, more reliable laboratory results will occur if soil is purchased. Some garden centers will
donate broken bags of soil to schools for student use. Ask your local garden center manager if this is the
policy at the store. Landscape centers that sell large quantities of topsoil, sand and gravel may also
donate small amounts of these items to your school.
Standard potting mix/sell--This is what should be used unless otherwise indicated. It contains the
nutrients required for successful plant growth. Generic brands of potting soil will work fine. Potting
soil should not be reused unless it has had a chance to dry out and has all old roots, seeds and plants
removed. The molds and other organisms in used potting soils can often harm seeds and young seedlings.
Used potting soil can be spread into school gardens, landscaped areas, or put into compost piles.
Vermiculite-This is expanded mica, grayish in color, and is used to sprout seeds that will later be
transplanted. It can be found at garden centers. Vermiculite is gentle on root systems but does not
contain a lot of nutrients.
Perllte-Perlite is expanded volcanic ash and contains very little nutrient value. It is used in plant
propagation to allow air flow and hold water and can be purchased in local garden centers.
Sand--Sand is a component of most soils. Sand, in its pure form, is made of quartz particles between
0.05 mm and 2.0 mm in size. It usually does not contain nutrients required by plants. When using
sand in this unit, make sure that you rinse it well since small amounts of clay, silt or organic matter
can alter your results. Sand from garden centers might be a little more pure than playground sand and
require less rinsing.
Silt-Silt is a component of most soils. It consists of particles that are smaller than sand but larger
than clay. Silt particles range from 0.02 mm and 0.05 mm in size. Silt is formed by the sedimentation
of rock particles that exist due to wind or water erosion.
Clay-llke soil--Clay is a component of most soils. It consists of very tiny particles no larger than
0.02 mm in size. Clay-like soils compact very easily and are hard for digging.
Pea gravel--Pea gravel is a
most garden centers. Make
mixture of small rocks about the size of peas. It can be purchased at
sure the gravel is rinsed before using it in your experiments.
A variety of seeds can be used in this unit.
Bean/Pea/Corn Seeds--To insure successful plant growth, purchase garden seeds that are
for the current planting season. If you choose to use older seeds, discuss the likelihood of non-
germination with your students and have them plant more than the suggested number of seeds in each
pot. Sometimes the seeds are covered with a fungicide. If this is the case, make sure your students
wash their hands after touching the seeds. Dried grocery store beans can be used for seed dissections
but are not recommended for plant growth experiments.
Wheat Seeds--Wheat seeds, sometimes called wheat berries or grains of wheat, can be purchased in
the grain section of health food stores or health food sections of some grocery stores. They are very
inexpensive and generally grow quite well. Plant a few seeds yourself before doing an experiment with
your students if you are not certain of their viability. Wheat seeds can also be purchased from
livestock feed and grain stores.
Seedlings--A few experiments may take less time if seedlings are used. If you have the space,
you may want to plant some extra bean seeds a couple of weeks before you will need them.
Purchased seedlings can also be used for some experiments.
Tap water- Generally, tap water can be used unless specific instructions tell you otherwise or
if your water is too hard. Soft water also should not be used in this unit because it contains ions
that can be harmful to plants.
Distilled water-- Certain experiments require the use of distilled/de-ionized water. This
water can be purchased inexpensively at a grocery store. Some hospitals and laboratories have
plumbed distilled or de-ionized water and will donate some to you, if you provide the containers.
&propriate Amounts of Water
Overwatering tends to be a major problem with students. There are many ways to prevent your
students from overwatering and underwatering their plants. Generally, you want the soil to be
moist, not wet, after watering. You then let the soil dry out before the next watering. Excessive
drainage from the pot or standing water are good indications of overwatering.
Suggestions are listed below.
l Show your students examples of soil that is just right, too wet and too dry.
l Monitor your students the first few times they water their plants. Discuss with each student
what an appropriate amount of water would be.
Use spray bottles or eye droppers for watering.
l Place a specific amount of water in a plastic cup for each group and explain that no more water
than the specified amount should be necessary.
ater Storaae Containers
Any sealable container can be used to store water. It is important to label &I containers,
especially when a container is being used for something other than its original use.
Ideas for water storage containers:
l-gallon plastic milk or water bottles with lids
spray bottles
l Baby food jars with lids
water pitchers
l 24iter plastic soda bottles with lids
. . .
The Science Framework for Calrfornra Publrc Schools states: Much has been written about the
need for students to conduct hands-on investigations in learning science. The reasons are many,
but they essentially fall into three major categories: (1) many students will not truly understand
the science they are supposed to learn if the exposure is solely verbal; (2) students learn the
processes and techniques of science through the replication of experiments; and (3) students will
enjoy and retain the science they learn from a laboratory activity more than from a textbook.
The statements above are legitimate and understandable. Teachers know they should be teaching
science with hands-on activities, however, all teachers know that ideal situations do not always
exist in the classroom. Classrooms are often overcrowded with students; there is not enough
storage space; parents can no longer volunteer because they have to work, and supplies are limited.
This section of the booklet is dedicated to helping you and your students have positive experiences
in laboratory science activities. Try several ideas and choose what works best for you.
Science labs can be done in any classroom. One trick to making them work in your particular
classroom is to have your room set up propelly.
* Have your tables set up so there is a flat surface available for use by each student group. Desks
might be clustered together or each group may have a particular shelf or counter they use
around the room. If desks must be rearranged, train your students to move them. Make it a
contest, if necessary, so that you can have your room arranged for science in 1 minute flat!
Masking tape markers on the floor can help your students properly position tables.
l When not in use, keep your science supplies out of the reach of students. Curiosity often causes
damage or loss of equipment. Allow the curious students to be your monitors and train them in
handling and organizing your science supplies. Labeled copy paper boxes, shoe boxes, plastic
storage crates and other containers can help keep materials organized. Some classroom
teachers have built storage sheds somewhere at their school to hold science equipment.
l Water is a must in the teaching of science. If you have a sink, have your students follow a set of
rules related to it. If you do not have a sink in your classroom, water from a local drinking
fountain or restroom can be stored in l-gallon water or milk bottles. Perhaps you can arrange
to have your classroom located near an outside watering spigot.
l Mops, sponges, rags, empty buckets, brooms and dust pans should be made available for clean-
l Keep regularly used items such as colored pencils, scissors and markers in organized, ready-
to-use bins.
l Check materials out to groups and make them responsible for returning the supplies in good
condition: numbering the supplies and numbering the groups can help. Another successful process
is to excuse the class only after all supplies have been returned to their proper locations.
l Do not have unnecessary supplies in the reach of students. They can know what you have
available, but you should require them to check out the materials.
At appropriate times, and well in advance, send lists home to parents requesting certain
household items. Students can receive extra credit for bringing in items you will need for
Do not be afraid to ask local merchants for donations for your classroom: fast food restaurants
might donate cups or straws, grocery stores may donate paper or plastic bags, shoe stores
might donate shoe boxes, butchers might donate butcher paper or foam trays, etc. Some schools
have one teacher coordinate the requests asked of local merchants so the merchants are not
overwhelmed with requests. Perhaps you can be that person, or a classroom parent volunteer
could assume the responsibility.
You must have a working discipline program
slowly; do simple lab activities first and then
positive experiences in laboratory science is
safety procedures. _
Discipline tips are listed below.
in effect before beginning lab activities. Start out
build up to more complex activities. The key to
organization, planning and the insistence of following
Associate all lab rules with safety and responsibility. For example, there is no squirting of
water bottles because people can slip and get hurt or get a harmful chemical in an eye; running
in a lab setting could cause someone to spill a chemical that could be harmful to people or
clothing, etc.
Have all of the supplies ready for distribution so that you can spend class time with your
students rather than worry about obtaining supplies or passing out papers.
Think of potential horseplay scenarios that could happen with your equipment. Role-play these
scenarios. Clearly explain to the students how the equipment should be used and discuss the
consequences that will occur if students misuse the equipment or do not follow directions. (For
example, a student who does not clean up his area will be responsible for cleaning the entire
room after school.) It is best if you can make the consequence fit the problem and, if possible,
clearly state all potential problems at the onset of the experiment.
Have each student or group of students earn two grades for lab assignments--one grade for
cooperation and one grade for work completed. Depending on the lab activity, group cooperation
may be worth more of the grade than the actual work completed.
If you are using cooperative groups, have the groups earn a grade on cooperation and following
directions. This will encourage students to use peer pressure as a means of classroom control.
Ask your principal or peers for names of people who manage laboratory activities in a positive
and productive way and observe these successful teachers during lab activities. It helps to
observe the same person at least twice and discuss his/her discipline program. It takes a while
to develop a useful management program, and occasionally some management techniques are
only used at the beginning of the year or are not obvious to an observer. It is amazing how
many great tips you get through a peer observation program.
l You should evaluate how well you think your labs are going.
down problems, great ideas and trouble-shooting suggestions.
teacher instructions of each lab: They will help you the next
_ .
Immediately following a lab, write
Keep these notes with the
time you perform the activity.
Revisions to labs are best made at the conclusion of a unit while your ideas are fresh in your
l Do not cancel all labs if one does not go well. Analyze the problems and use it as a learning
experience. You and your students probably learned something even if you think a lab was not
well managed.
l You will find that students will want to do lab activities. They can be used as motivating tools
and to promote cooperation. Putting trust in your students often encourages them to show you
how well they can act.
l Provide your students with a timeline. Explain how much time they have to complete the
lesson. Throughout the period remind students of how much time they have remaining.
l Have strategies for dealing with students who finish lab activities early. A well organized
teacher always has other work for students to do upon completion of a lab (extension activities,
reading assignments, puzzles, poster contests etc.).
l . Take a break from labs every once in a while. Labs are very active situations and can be tiring
for both you and your students. When you and/or your students are feeling overwhelmed, do
individual activities such as reading or writing assignments or watch an appropriate video.
Pick up lab activities again once everyone is re-energized.
l Train your students regarding what to do in case of a laboratory accident. Clearly explain how
to inform the instructor and what steps should be followed. This avoids student
embarrassment, classroom chaos, and further accidents. Discuss how horseplay can cause
unnecessary accidents.
Hopefully, some of the preceding suggestions will help you have a positive experience with
laboratory activities. Science is a very exciting subject and allows students to interact with one
another on an intellectual level. Try an experiment or two with your students. You might be
surprised how much fun it can be!
Throughout this unit, your students will be making many hypotheses, perform@ experiments to
test their hypotheses and participating in many other activities. Each student will be required to
write and draw pictures about their thoughts and record experimental data. It is important that
your students have an organized place to keep their papers.
Using ideas of your own and ideas listed
below, decide how you would like your students to organize their work. Spend some time at the
beginning of this unit to explain to your students how they will keep their records. Remember to
allow organizational time throughout the unit. The more time you give students to organize their
work, the more professional their final products will be.
l Science notebook contains any material you want your students to keep-hypotheses, lab
write-ups, drawings, handouts, etc.. Generally, science notebooks are organized in a standard
way according to the instructors guidelines. Each students notebook wil look similar to those
of other classmates. A table of contents at the beginning of the notebook encourages students to
keep their work organized. Teachers often post the table of contents on a waH so that students
can have a model to follow.
l This folder contains writing paper and any handouts you want your students to keep. Most
often, journals are places where students can write their thoughts. They are usually dated,
organized sequentially and allow students to comment freely on subjects. You should have your
own requirements for journal writing and clearly explain those guidelines to your students.
Some teachers require group journals rather than individual journals.
Students keep a science folder of all lab activities, but at the end of the unit, they are required
to make an individual l portfolio.g Portfolios include your students favorite!best work of
his/her choosing. You should require your students portfolio to contain certain things. For
example, you might require the students to include 2 labs, one writing assignment, 1 re-
written laboratory assignment, one drawing and/or other items you think are appropriate:
however, allow each student to pick the work that fits the criteria. Some students will need
help organizing their final product. You will find that all students enjoy choosing what they
want to go in their portfolios and that most will put extra effort into their papers they place in
their featured work. Portfolios can be used as evaluation tools of student progress.
l Students keep folders with their materials and then make an accordion book of things they learn
as they perform experiments and activities. The accordion books can be any size. The books
are made by cutting pieces of butcher paper to the preferred lengths and widths and then folding
them like an accordion. Students show what they learn in a sequential manner and enjoy
looking at their work from previous lessons. Accordion books can also be used as evaluation
tools of student progress.
Possible folder ideas:
l Use manila file folders. Have each student write his/her name on the tab and keep it in a file
folder box that is kept at school. This prevents students from losing and damaging papers.
Papers can be stapled to the folder.
l Staple lined paper, blank paper, and/or combination sheets (master in the Template section
of this handbook) into a cover made from a 12 X 18 piece of construction paper.
l Make small booklets cut in the shape of a seed, plant, sun, fertilizer box, dirt pile, stream,
etc.. Fill the booklets with blank paper and have the students fill it with predictions, data,
conclusions, pictures and writing assignments. You may use one booklet for each scientific
concept or experiment or different booklets for each concept or experiment.
l Spiral bound notebooks are a way of helping students keep all of their papers together. You can
require your students to staple or glue handouts in particular places.
l Report folders with 3 inner brads can be used as science folders. This allows students to keep
papers organized but also allows for the addition of handouts.
l Have student groups or individuals make large posters that can be displayed in libraries and
l Flip books are a fun way of illustrating knowledge.
l For some lessons limit the number of words that can be used to express a hypothesis or thought.
This encourages students to draw and allows artistic students to use their talents.
Andersen, Lena and Bjork,
Bourgeois, Paulette
Heller, Ruth
Hess, Lilo
Lauber, Patricia
Martin, Bill Jr.
McMillan, Bruce
Parramon, J.M. & Rius,
Selsam, Millicent E.
Selsam, Millicent E.
Selsam, Millicent E.
Wexler, Jerome
FlctloQ .
Carle, Eric
Domanska, Janina
Ehlert, Lois
Ehlert, Lois
Galdone, Paul
Galdone, Paul
Kellogg, Steven
Krauss, Ruth
Kuchalla, Susan
Merrill, Claire
Potter, Beatrix
Titherington, Jeanne
Wiesner, David
A Weed is a Flower--The Life of
George Washington Carver
Corn is Maize--The Gift of the
The Story of Johnny Appleseed
Linneas Windowsill Garden
The Amazing Dirt Book
The Reason For a Flower
The Amazing Earthworm
Seeds: Pop Stick Glide
Growing Colors
Life Underground
Vegetables From Stems and Leaves
The Maple Tree -
Flowers, Fruits and Seeds
The Tiny Seed
The Turnip
Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and
Vegetables From A-Z
Growing Vegetable Soup
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Little Red Hen
Johnny Appleseed
The Carrot Seed
Now I Know All About Seeds
A Seed is a Promise
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Pumpkin, Pumpkin
June 22, 1999
Lathrop, Lee and Shepard
Encyclopedia Brittanica
Lathrop, Lee and Shepard
Harper and Row
Harper and Row
Prentice Hall
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Troll Association
Greenwillow Books
The goal of this activity is for students to form a classroom consensus on what humans need
vs. what humans want. They will compare human needs to plant needs. This will prepare
them for upcoming plant experiments.
l All living things require specific nutrients for growth and reproduction?
l Humans use air, fresh water, soil, minerals, fossil fuels, and other sources of energy that
come from the earth.2
For the Class: For Each Group of Students:
l 24 large sheets of butcher paper
old magazines with a variety of pictures
1 broad tip marking pen l paste or glue
l crayons or markers (optional)
1 set of I Need... I Want! cards
4 r
1 resealable plastic bag, paper clip or
l 1 pair of scissors
TIME: 2-3 thirty-minute sessions
All living things grow, metaboli?e food, reproduce, and interact with their environments.
Depending on the organism, the requirements to complete these functions vary. Scientifically
speaking, humans require food, water, shelter and/or temperature control, space, air, soil
and/or decomposers, and sunlight. The human species cannot survive without sunlight because
it is, directly or indirectly, a consumer of plants which requires light. Plants require
sunlight, water, nutrients, carbon dioxide, and space to grow.
1. Beforehand, cut out one set of 20 I NEED...1 WANT cards for every two stints. Race each set
of cards in a resealable plastic bag.
2. As a class, discuss and form understandable definitions of the words need. andr want/ Write
these definitions on sentence strips so they can be referred to throughout the unit.
Place your students in teams of two. Distribute one set of cards to each team.
Each team is responsible for placing the cards into two piles-one pile strould consist of things
humans NEED and the other pile should consist of things humans might 7VANT.O You should
remind the students that they must agree as to which category each item belongs. Encourage
cooperative discussions between partners.
5. After the students have created their NEEDS and WANTS piles, have a class discussion on the
topic. Your class should conclude that for survival, humans require focxi, water, sheher
and/or temperature control, space, air, soil and/or decomposers, and sunlight. The other
items listed on the cards are human wants. A blank card is included so students C~T;T: draw any
other human need they can think of.
What if... scenarios might help the students visualize what would happen if they did
not have a certain item. Example: What if you were stranded in space without food?
6. Build a collage of h&an needs and wants using magazine pictures and/or student drawings. A
pattern for the collage background is provided. (One body can be divided in half, lengthwise, or
two separate bodies can be used - one for human needs and the other for human wants.)
7. Using the template provided, make two large trees on butcher paper. Labef one WliAT WE
THINK PLANTS NEED. Label the other tree WHAT PLANTS REALLY NEED! Ask the students how
human needs are similar to and different from plant needs. On the first tree, make a list of
what the class thinks plants require in order to grow. As you confirm or disprove the class
hypotheses, fill in the tree labeled WHAT PLANTS REALLY NEED!
8. Have the students keep a record of their thoughts in their science folders.
Students should realize that all living things require certain things in order to survive. What
these organisms require will depend on each species, but the basic requirements of food, water,
space and air are needed by all living things.
1. Have the students color and cut out the I NEED...1 WANT cards to practice fine motor skills.
2. Have the students draw human needs and wants on the large class posters.
3. Instead of using the collage background, trace around a students body.
(Adapted from the California State F,nvironmental Education Guide, 1988 and Proiect Wild, 1985.)
I Need... I Want!
Collage Background
I Need... I Want
Tree Template
I Need... I Wailt Cards ( 1)
Temperature Control .- Transportation
Shelter Plants
Water Soil
I Need..: I Want Cards (2)
Toys .-
Humans also need....
The purpose of this activity is to learn the six basic plant parts and their functions.
* Plants have structures that help plants grow and reproduce.3
For The Claim:
l overhead transparencies of Super Seed
For Every Group of Three or Four Students:
1 plant 3-5 high-2 six packs of plants will do; plants with flowers are preferred
1 newspaper
For Every Pair of Students:
1 hand lens
For Every Student:
1-2 lima beans soaked in water over night ( 1 bag of dried beans from the grocery store
will be more than enough)
l 1 toothpick
1 paper towel
l 1 Super Seed handout
l 1 Plant Parts handout
small amount of white glue
TIME: 2 thirty-minute sessions
Plants are extremely important to life on earth. Plants grow on mountains, in valleys, in
deserts, in freshwater streams, in oceans--almost everywhere on the planet. Depending on
where plants live, they have special parts that perform specific functions.
The basic parts of most land plants are roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. The
function of
the plant parts is described below.
Roots anchor the plants in the soil and absorb nutrients and water which are needed
by the rest of the plant.
Stems support the upper part of the plant and act as a transport system for
nutrients, water, sugar, and starches.
Leaves are the parts of the plant where photosynthesis occurs-where food for the
plant is made. The green substance, chlbrophyil, captures light energy and uses it
to convert water and carbon dioxide into plant food.
Flowers are the reproductive part of plants. After flowers are pollinated and
fertilized, they produce seeds in the ovary of the plant. Flower petals and
fragrances attract pollinators such as bees.
Fruits are the fleshy substances that usually surround seeds. They protect the seeds
and attract animals to eat them. This helps in seed dispersal.
Seeds contain the tiny baby plant called an embryo which grows into another plant.
Seeds are covered with a protective seed coat and have cotyledons. Cotyledons are the
food for the baby plant until it can make its own food from light.
Soak 2 lima beans for each student overnight. Soak a few extras to allw for error.
Tell the students that scientists consider plants to have six basic parts. Have them guess what
they are (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds).
Using their fingers and toothpicks, over a paper towel, have each student dissect a bean seed.
Have them notice the seed coat, cotyledons, and embryo. You may even want them to notice the
plumule (baby beans), the hypocotyl arch (body stem), and rudimentary root (baby root).
Assist students in completing the Super Seed worksheet. The second lima bean is for your
students to glue on their papers.
Using hand lenses and toothpicks, in groups of 3 or 4, have students carefully examine (and
dissect if appropriate) a plant. Have them use newspaper when examining the roots. Assist
students in completing the worksheet Plant Parts.
As a class, discuss the basic plant parts and the function of each.
Plants have some basic parts that have particular functions which assist the ptant with growing
and reproducing.
The purpose of this experiment is for students to realize that plants need water in appropriate
l All plants need water.4
For Each P.air of Students: For Each Student:
l 9 pea or bean seeds
Water! Water! Wonderful Water! Handout
l 3 labels
l hand lens (optional)
1 paper towel or sponge cut to fit the bottom of the cups
l 3 clear plastic cups without holes (9 oz size)
TIME : 20-30 minutes--introduction and set up
5-10 minutes && for 5 days observation and watering
15 minutes--conclusion
A plant, like all living organisms, needs water to live and grow. Water carries nutrients from
the soil to all parts of the plant and carries food from the leaves back to the roots. Water is
also needed to create the pressure that holds up a plant. Without water, the plant will wilt and
eventually die.
Seeds also need air (carbon dioxide and oxygen) to grow. When a seed is completely submerged
in water, gaseous oxygen needed to metabolize sugars and starches is not available. Therefore,
the seed dies.
1. Hold up a plastic bag full of dried beans. Ask the students if the seeds are alive. (Yes!) Ask the
students why these beans are not growing into plants. You will get a variety of reasons,
however, focus on the ones that mention the lack of water.
2. lest student predictions about the need for water. A possible experiment is described below.
Each team of students should perform the experiment.
a Make three different labels - No Water, A Little Water and Lots of Water.
b. Place l / 3 of a school-type paper towel in the bottom of each cup. Sponges can be used
instead of paper towels.
c. Place 3 dry lima beans on top of the paper towel in each cup.
d Add water to the cups as indicated.
1 ) No Water = No water added
2 ) A Little Water = Enough water to keep the bean and paper towel moist but not wet
3 ) A Lot of Water = Fill the cup at least 112 full with water
e. Write and draw hypothesis on the worksheet.
f. Observe the seed dailv for a period of one week. Use a hand lens if available. Change the
water in the cups daily to avoid mold growth and smelly seeds.
g. After one week (or when you feel there is a significant difference), draw what happened in
each cup. l / 2' to 1 growth is enough growth to see the differences.
no water a little water a lot of water
3. Add the word water to the What Plants Really Need chart.
Plants require water for survival; however, too much water is just as bad as not enough.
1. Make one large class chart or several group charts rather than individual worksheets.
2. This experiment could be performed using resealable plastic bags.
3. Obtain three marigold seedlings. Do not water one of the plants. Water another as you would a
typical houseplant. Keep the third plant in standing water.
1. Put radish seeds on two sponges. Place the sponges in aluminum pie plates. Keep one sponge
damp and the other sponge dry. Observe what happens.
2. Introduce H20 as the formula for water.
3. Invite a farmer into your classroom to discuss how crops are properly watered.
Set up your three cups as explained by your teacher.
Draw and write your hypothesis about what will
happen. Take good care of your seeds for one week.
Draw and write about what actually happened.
No Wat er A L i t t l e Water Lot s of Water
My Guess
Ac t ua l l y
1 learned that____________________________~.________--_-------_____________________
The purpose of this experiment is for students to determine
successful growth.
that plants require light for
l Green plants need light?
For the Class:
l Light source
For Each Palr
l 8beanseeds
of Students:
l Wat er
l A place with complete darkness
(cardboard boxes or closet)
1 cup without drain holes
l 2 cups with drain holes
watering can or spray bottle
l 2 labels
l crayons or colored pencils (optional)
For Each Student:
Let the Sunshine it worksheet
TIM E : 1 forty-minute period--introduction, planting, and predicting
10 minutes each day for 2 weeks-observations and watering
1 twenty-minute period-conclusion
Plants have the ability to make their own food by using carbon dioxide, water, and minerals. A
substance called chlorophyll, the chemical responsible for making plants green, is needed to
convert the ingredients to plant foods-sugars and starches. Chlorophyll only exists in the
presence of light. Plants need light energy so that chlorophyll is available to the plants.
Seeds can germinate and grow without sunlight for a short period of time. The cotyledons on
either side of the embryo contain stored energy for the young plant so the plant can survive
until it reaches the surface of the soil and makes it own food from light. Generally, the larger
the cotyledon, the deeper the seed can be planted.
lumule (baby leaves)
\Rudimentary root
1 . Undoubtedly, light or sunlight willbe on the list of
order to survive.
If it is not, make sure it appears
items your students think plants need in
on the list before conducting this
3 2
2. Ask the students how they think they could test whether or not plants require sunlight. Use
their suggestions if appropriate. Here is a possibility.
Have each team soak eight beans in water overnight. Have them observe what happens to
the beans. Two extra are soaked so that students can dissect one bean and practice
identifying seed parts. The best six beans should be used for step B.
Have each team prepare the set-up as illustrated below. (It is important that student
teams plant more than one seed in each container so that they can make generalizations
about their results.)
leave a thumbs width space at the top of
nt h e cup
3 beans planted 1 below the soil surface
Place the container with the words LIGHT written on it in a well lit room, preferably
near a window or under a grow light, and the DARK set-up in complete darkness--a
cardboard box covered with black construction paper or a dark closet.
Have the students complete the hypothesis section of their worksheets. You may choose to
have a class wall chart of student predictions.
Observe the cups daily, for no more than 5 minutes, and water if necessary. Setting a
timer is one way of measuring time. Overwatering is a major problem with students.
Perhaps you can monitor the amount of water you make available to each group. After 5-7
days the beans shouM sprout.
Continue to allow the plants to grow for about two weeks or until students are convinced
that plants need light.
Have students write and draw what they learned from this experiment and include it in
their worksheet and/or in their journals. Add the word %un to the What Plants Really
Need! poster.
The students will learn that plants require light in order to grow, but there is a stage of growth
that can occur without light--the first few days of growth.
1 . Do this same experiment with seedlings purchased from a nursery.
1. Plant a bean in a student-size milk carton. Let it sprout. After it has sprouted, place it in
a box that only has one hole through which light is visible. Watch the plant grow out of the
hole. By using additional boxes, you can challenge your students to create complicated.
mazes for bean seedlings using light on the finish line.
2. Plant seeds in pots. Place each pot in a cardboard box whose opening is completely covered
with colored cellophane. Determine how the color of light affects plant growth.
3 Determine how deeply seeds can be planted and still grow successfully. Plant seeds at
different depths--some up to 10 inches deep. Generally, seeds with large cotyledons (lima
beans) can be planted deeper than smaller cotyledons (radishes, lettuce).
THE SUNSHINE IN! Name ---___--__------
W e e k Week 2 Week 1 Week 2
- -
- - - -
W e e k Week 2 W e e k Week 2
- - -
- - -
- - - -
I learned that
The students should discover that there are many types of soil and that certain soil types are
better for growing plants than others.
l Soil is a grocery store for plants--it is a warehouse of plant nutrients. As plant roots
grow in the soil, they absorb nutrients and water that are required by the plants.
+ Soils vary, thus they differ in the types and amounts of nutrients that are available to the
l Soils in a region reflect their local geology and determine in part what kinds of plants can
grow in a region?
l Organisms can tolerate some variation in the things they need in order to survive, but they
do best under certain conditions?
For the Class:
bucketful (approximately 2 gallons) of the following:
vermiculite - purchased from garden centers
perlite - purchased from garden centers
pebbles (pea gravel) - well rinsed
sand - well rinsed
clay-like soil - hard compact soil from a playground or vacant lot
peat-moss - purchased from garden centers
Wheaties cereal box or other type of cereal box
Wheaties false front (provided)
l light
For Each Pair of Students:
1-2 sheets of newspaper (or cardboard box lid or cafeteria tray)
l 0 wheat seeds
1 planting cup
spray bottle or watering device
1 hand lens
For Each Student:
1 Wheaties Contest Rules sheet
1 Soil Worksheet
1 Our Perfect Soil worksheet
TI ME : 2 forty-minute sessions--introduction and activity
10 minutes daily for three weeks--watering and observations
1 forty minute session--conclusion
Soils are formed by the weathering of rocks by wind and water. Organic matter (decomposed
plants and animals), water and air are also soil components.
Soils are part of the rock cycle. They are formed from the breakdown of rock, and someday
may form into a new rock with the aid of great pressure and temperature. Soil composition
varies from place to place for many reasons. One major factor that affects soil type is the
parent rock that makes up the particles.
In this lesson your students will obsen/e soil types that come from different parent rocks and
minerals. Vermiculite is made of the mineral mica, while perlite is volcanic ash and clay.
Sand comes from silicate rocks. Peat moss is decomposed plants and animals (25-150 years
old). Potting soil is a mixture of substances.
Your students will determine what they think is the best recipe for potting soil!, which will be
used to grow corn plants. The mystery and friendly competition of this lesson creates an
exciting atmosphere for students. The next lesson allows students to focus on the organic
matter in soils.
Before beginning this lesson with your students, determine what type of contest you would like
to have. Make a contest sheet for your students to follow (a sample is provided).
Show a box of Wheaties cereal to your students and discuss the following scenario:
You are a scientist and work in the laboratory for General Mills - 7IVheaties division. Your
director just told you that whoever could help increase the amount of wheat the farmers grow
on their land would have his/her picture put on the front of the next box of Wheaties. You like
this contest idea and you start imagining how great it would be to have your photograph all over
the United States. You could become famous!!! The director believes that wheat growth can
improve if the soil is altered and gives you some guidelines that must be followed. You read
over the contest rules and begin work.
Pass out the Wheaties Contest Rules sheet to each student. Review the contest rules and
explain that students should check off their rule sheets as they complete each task.
Form teams of tht88 students
4. Distribute to each team small samples of the following soils: vermiculite, perlite, pebbles,
sand, peat moss, and clay-like soil. Have the students examine the soils using hand lenses and
pencil points, glue samples to their Soil Worksheet and complete the rest of the worksheet.
5. Give each team the Our Perfect Soil worksheet. Have each team fill their plastic cup with
the recipe for the perfect wheat soil and complete the worksheet. Encourage your students
to plan ahead and think about what they want to do before they actually fill the cups.
6. Have your students plant the wheat seeds as described.
a Plant wheat V-1 l / 2" deep in plastic or wax-lined paper cups.
b. Keep soil moist at the depth of the seed. Do not overwater.
c. Warm, humid conditions will promote leaf diseases so a cool; but not cold, environment is
d Grow lights will speed up the process (regular incandescent or fluorescent bulbs are fine).
Otherwise, keep plants near a bright window.
At appropriate times, have your students water and measure their plants and record their
observations in a journal or folder.
After the students have grown their wheat, determine which wheat looks the healthiest and
tallest. Announce the winning team(s). Take a scientific team photo and attach it to a brightly
colored Wheaties false front and tape it to an empty Wheaties cereal box. (Wheaties box
false front provided.) If appropriate, your entire class can be in the photograph.
Have a class discussion that re-emphasizes the fact that soil types (and other factors) do affect
plant growth.
Soil types do vary throughout our planet. Some soil types are more suitable for growing crops
than are others. However, we must realize that many other factors affect plant growth and soil
quality (amount of light, water, temperature, etc.).
1 . Have one class compete against another class of the same grade level.
2. Perform the experiment with corn seeds and have the contest for a corn-based cereal.
3. Have the students draw their own faces on the Wheaties false fronts because they are all
1. If growing wheat, read and discuss The Little Red Hen; if growing corn; read Corn is Maize.
2. Write or visit a cereal manufacturer and find out how cereal is manufactured.
3. Invite a wheat or corn grower to your classroom to discuss his/her operation.
4. Arrange to visit a wheat or corn grower at his/her farm.
5. Grow wheat or corn in pure vermiculite, perlite, etc. and see how growth is affected.
(The Wheaties trademark and illustration is used with permission from General Mills Corporation.)
The Bre
(The Wheaties trademark and illustration is used with permission from General Mills Corporation.)
Team Names_______
-- --
My Teams Perfect Soil Looks Like This. We think the wheat will grow best in this soil
- - - - - -
e - - - - c
Examine dry samples of each of the types of soil with a
hand lens. Glue the different types of soil to your Soil
As a team, think of the perfect recipe for the best type
of soil. Are there layers of materials? Is there only
one type of substance in the perfect soil? Complete the
Our Perfect Soil worksheet.
Make your perfect soil sample. It must fit in the cl ear
plastic cup provided.
Count out exactly ten wheat seeds.
Plant the wheat seeds.
Water your wheat as necessary. Take good care o
Every other day, draw a picture of what is happen
your wheat.
ng to
Measure your growing wheat when your teacher asks you
Work well as a team and earn your spot on the Wheaties
cereal box by growing the healthiest and tallest wheat.
After doing this activity, students should have a better understanding of what soil is and that it
has many components.
l Soils vary, thus, they differ in the types and amounts of nutrients that are available to
For the Class:
1 large, clean jar with lid (1 quart Mason jar)
1 clean, unused plastic bag or disposable glove
variety of dry snack foods (see step #6 of procedure)
1 bucket of soil that contains a variety of items
For Each Pair of Students:
1 shovel or digging device
1 clean school ,milk carton
1 hand lens
l 3-4 sheets of old newspaper
l paste or glue
l tweezers (optional)
l strainer (optional)
crayons or markers
For Each Student:
0 1
0 1
0 1
0 1
l 1
Superb Soil handout
What Is Dirt Made Of? handout
What A Superb Soil Has! handout
pair scissors
1 fifty-minute session--introduction and activity
1 twenty-minute session-snack soil model and conclusion
Soil is generally defined as the top layer of the earths surface. Soils are formed from the
weathering of rocks and the decomposition of organisms. Soils consist of mineral materials,
organic matter, water, and air and are characterized by their chemical and physical make-ups.
Soils are composed of particles with a variety of sizes and shapes. The smallest particles are
called clay, mid-sized particles are called silt, and the larger particles are called sand. Soil
science is a very complex subject and is becoming more important as people try to manage the
land in the best ways possible.
Distribute the paper titled SUPERB SOIL to each student. Tell the students to close their eyes
and imagine that they are outside and are digging a deep hole into the ground. In Jar Wl, have
them draw a detailed picture of what the dirt/soil would look like. Whats in it?
Using shovels and small containers (milk cartons or cups), have the students go outside and dig
up a sample of soil. Spread out the students so they dig in different places. (For example, one
student could collect soil from the sandbox, another could dig a small hole in a grassy area,
another could dig in a very heavily walked area, etc. Make sure that some of your students are
obtaining soil from a nutrient rich area such as a freshly plowed field or flower garden.)
Encourage them to dig at least 4 deep. Monitor where the students are digging to avoid
Have the students spread out their soil sample on newspaper or another type of tray. Using
hand lenses and other lab tools, have the students find as many different things as they can.
Have them draw and write what they find in Jar #2. Encourage the students to show
representative quantities, if possible.
On the chalkboard, make a class list of everything that
some grouping of items to save room. Hopefully, the
small dirt particles--clay or silt
larger dirt particlgs-sand
rocks and pebbles
dead plants and animals
live plants, including seeds
at least one student found. You might do
following will show up on the class list:
a soft type of dirt--humus (decayed plants and animals)
discarded waste-plastic bags, etc.
Discuss the actual components of soil: The children will build a soil model by coloring and
cutting out the pictures provided and gluing them in Jar #3. Discuss the importance of each of
the soil components as the students are filling Jar #3.
l Humans depend on plants for food; plants need nutrients in order to grow.. They get these
nutrients from the soil. Rock and dirt particles provide many of the nutrients plants need,
while decomposers (worms, bacteria, fungi) convert dead plants and animals back into
nutrients that plants can use. Without the constant formation of soils (by the rock cycle
and decomposition), plants would not be able to grow successfully.
To reinforce the need for decomposers such-as earthworms, nematodes, bacteria, molds, and
mushrooms, have your students imagine what our planet would look like if decomposers did not
exist! Have them draw and write about their thoughts or orally express their thoughts to
another student.
After the students have built their Superb Soil model, you can now make an edible soil model.
Use a clean 1 quart clear glass jar that has a sealable lid. (You may use a different size jar if
your class is larger or smaller than average.) Ask the students to list, one at a time, an item
that is part of soil. As they list them, place a snack representative in the jar. After all of the
items are mentioned and the jar is full, seal it, place it in a secure place away from moisture,
ants, and tiny hands. Some food items that can be used are listed below. Allow the students to
eat the snack at an appropriate time.
Component Candy Other Snack Item
Ai r Pop Rocks Coconut Flakes
Plants Orange Slices, Candy Corn, Pretzels
Spearmint Leaves
Peanut M&Ms Peanuts
Trash Jolly Ranchers or other Wrapped Snack
Rocks Large Jawbreakers Dried Pears
Pebbles Gumballs Dried Apricots
Jelly Beans Chocolate<overed Peanuts
Clay Red Hots Raisins
Animals Gummy Worms, Spiders or Goldfish Crackers
Rats on Top
Bacteria Nerds Chocolate-covered Raisins
Water Blue Candy Fruit Roll-up Bits
l Try to make the candy representatives appropriate in size for the model.
l Make sure you use a plastic bag or plastic gloves to fill the jar.
Soil is made of many components, many of which cannot be seen with the unaided eye.
Decomposers and nutrients are vital for plant growth, yet they are not easily seen by humans.
This model will help the students realize that soil is made of many things.
Invite a person from the Soil Conservation Sewice to visit your classroom
science activities.
and do hands-on sqil
Obtain the Amazing Soil Stories activity comic books for your students. (See Educational
Have students fill baby food jars half full with soil. Fill the jars with water. Place the lids
tightly on the jars. Test for leaks. Seal with masking tape if necessary. Shake the jars
vigorously for five minutes.
Let the jars sit quietly. Observe the soil profile as it settles.
Obsen/e the jars each day for one week.
lxt JW
110s akudns.
What Is Dirt Made Of?
Dlrectlons: Color and cut out the pictures and glue them Into jar #3
+ * -
- _
- -
c -
- _
- --
--we- - - - - - - - - -
Jar #3
What A Superb Soil Has
The purpose of this experiment is for students to realize that plants require certain
nutrients in order to grow. If those nutrients are not available in appropriate levels, the
plant will not grow and will perhaps die. On the other hand, plants must not get too much of
a nutrient either. It is important to have nutrients in proper quantities.
l All living things require specific nutrients for growth and reproduction. Plants require
sixteen chemical elements, among other things9
l Humans use minerals that come from the earth to make a variety of substances, such as
fertilizer. O
l Minerals and other nutrients not used by plants and animals run off into rivers and
eventually reach the ocean.1 1
l Agricultural advances have greatly improved the hardiness of plants and quality of
For the CJass:
l light source
l distilled water (3-4 gallons)
l houseplant fertilizer--Miracle Grow, Shultzs, or similar type (enough for 2-3 gallons
of regular strength fertilizer.)
l 3 one-gallon containers with lids to store watering solutions (l-gallon plastic milk or
water bottles)
l 6 spray bottles for watering
l 6 labels
For Each Pair of Students:
l 9 pea or bean seeds
l 3 planting cups
l 3 labels
well-rinsed sand or vermiculite to fill three cups
crayons or markers
For Each Student
Grow Bean Grow handout
TIME: 1 forty-minute session-introduction, and set up
10 minutes daily for two weeks--observation and watering
1 twenty-minute session--conclusion
Plants require 16 chemical elements for successful growth and reproduction. Carbon, oxygen,
hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are required in relatively large quantities and
are obtained from soil, water and air. Ten other elements must be available to plants in small
q u a n t i t i e s .
It is easy to think of soil as a grocery store for plants. The plants go shopping in the soil
and get what they need. Just like it is with humans, if plants do not get all of the nutrients they
need, they do not stay healthy. Conversely, if plants get too many nutrients (vitamins), the
plants get poisoned.
A perfect soil contains all of the nutrients a plant needs and has the appropriate texture
(particle configuration). Most soils must be amended in some way to improve their quality. A
fertilizer is any substance that is added to the soil or water to increase the amount of nutrients
available to plants. Fertilizers can be man-made or natural substances. Manure, fish
emulsion, composted plant materials, and store-bought man-made fertilizers are all
considered to be fertilizers.
Most fertilizers are water-loving substances. They draw water out of the roots of plants and
soils. If too much fertilizer is added to the soil, too much water is pulled from plants and the
plants dehydrate and die. This is what is meant when one says that plants were burned by
fertilizer. Overuse of a fertilizer of any type is not only harmful to the plants, but it
contaminates waterways (groundwater, streams and oceans). Extensive research is being done
to create ways to insure that waterways are not contaminated by fertilizers and other
substances. Every time a fertilizer is purchased, a portion of that money is set aside for
research and education. Ask your students if their family is doing their part to minimize the
amount of chemicals entering waterways. This experiment will show that proper use of
fertilizers creates healthy plants.
Ask the students why some people take
necessary for humans to take vitamins.
vitamins. Discuss their answers and why it is not
l Humans who eat well balanced diets generally do not need to take vitamin pills. Humans
take vitamins wnen they are uncertain they are receiving all of the trace minerals they
Ask the
say no.
students if they think plants need vitamins. Some will say yes and others will still
l Plants need certain nutrients. If all of the required nutrients are available in the soil,
plants do not need vitamins (fertilizers). Fertilizers must be used when soils do not
contain all of the vitamins (nutrients) plants need.
4. Plants absorb nutrients through their roots and leaves. Ask the students what they think
will happen if plants do not get enough or get extra nutrients. Have them perform the GROW
BEAN GROW experiment to test their hypotheses. (Instructions are in the student handbook.)
To ensure positive results:
Use clean sand or vermiculite. Sand and vermiculite CaSl be cleaned by placing
dish tub (no more than 1 inch high), then filling it with distilled water. Swirl
it in a
soil around. Do this several times until the rinse water becomes clear. If clay
particles are mixed with the sand or vermiculite, there may be enough nutrients
available to grow a healthy bean plant.
l Use distilled water. The minerals in tap water also will allow the bean in cup #l to
grow successfully. You want to make sure that cup #2 grows the best so that the .
students are aware that nutrients are needed to make plants grow.
Soak beans overnight before planting.
l Plant at feast 3 beans in each cup. (Navy beans dont require as much room.)
l Plant beans about 1" deep.
l Make sure that cup #3 is watered with at least triple the amount of recommended
Use separate drain pans for plants watered with different liquids.
No fertilizers: some growth.
Recommended amount of fertilizer: best growth.
Lots of fertilizer: poor or no growth.
4. Add the word nutrients to the What Plants Really Need poster.
The students should learn that plants need nutrients if the plants are to grow successfully.
It is important to point out that there are many ways to provide the nutrients plants need.
They should already know that soil and water contain nutrients. Using fertilizers is another
way of providing plants the nutrients they need. Fertilizers often speed up the growth
process of plants. The students should also conclude that too much of a fertilizer couM be
just as harmful as not enough fertilizer. Farmers and gardeners must be careful about how
much fertilizer they apply to their plants so that the plants and the environment stay
Do this experiment as a class project rather than as small group experiments.
Take a class/school-wide poll as to what will happen if three times the recommended amount of
fertilizer is used. Then do the experiment. Make graphs to show the results.
Use young plants rather than seeds for the experiment: the results will be quicker.
1 . Use 5 different concentrations of fertilizers rather than 2 concentrations.
-- 2. Have interested students test other types of fertilizers (used coffee grounds, steer manure, etc.)
1 Make three labels
Water Onl y
Wat er + Fer t i l i zer
Water + Lots of
Fe r t i l i z e r
2. Get 3 cups and 9 beans
3. Put 1 l.abel on each cup.
4. Fill each cup with sand, leaving an empty space at the top
about 1 cm (as wide as your baby finger).
5. Plant 3 beans in each cup about 1 (2cm) deep.
6. Fill in the My Predictions section of the worksheet.
7. Water with the appropriate liquid and see what happens.
4 1ew
KlNVld 01 OCI SEiZllll~33 IVHM--MOEI NV38 MO@)
The purpose of this activity is for students to realize that scientists learn things by being
creative with experimentation. They will see that it is not easy to develop an experiment
that proves that plants need air (carbon dioxide) for survival.
Plants need air for growth and reproduction.
l Plants must have light, water, and air to make food for themselves. 3
For Each Student:
1 piece of paper
crayons or markers
l materials for student designed experiments (optional)
TIME: 1 or 2 forty-minute sessions
Extra time wilt be required if students perform experiments.
Air consists of many things, including nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. Plants must
have carbon dioxide, light, and water in order to make their own food of sugars and starches.
This process is called photosynthesis. Plants must also have oxygen in order to convert the
sugars and starches to energy required to grow. The photosynthetic process provides more
than enough oxygen for plants. Extra oxygen is released into the atmosphere and used by
humans and other living organisms. In simple terms, plants provide animals with the
oxygen they need, and animals provide plants with carbon dioxide. (It is theoretically
possible for plants to exist without the presence of animals. However, animals release
carbon dioxide when they respire and increase the amount of carbon dioxide available to the
plants. This allows the plants to grow vigorously.) The unique relationship between plants
and animals must stay in balance so all living things can co-exist.
Explain to the students that one of the items the class thinks plants need for survival is air.
(Make sure air is on their class list of What We Think Plants Need to Grow before
beginning this activity.)
Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to design an experiment that would prove
that plants need air. Give them plenty of time to develop their ideas and write and draw
about them on their papers.
Discuss the possible experiments your students created. One possible idea is explained
l Plant seeds in a small amount of moist soil in a resealable plastic bag. Make sure that
you remove as much air as possible. This can be done by rolling a pencil over the top of
the planted bag, allowing the air to escape through a tiny hole which you seal.
4. If time permits, set up a couple of your students ideas.
5. Discuss with your students that after years of research with vacuums (a place where all air
is removed) and experiments in space, scientists are now satisfied with the idea that plants
must have carbon dioxide (air) in order to survive.
6. Place the word air or carbon dioxide on the What Plants Really Need To Grow poster.
This activity reviews the basic facts that plants require water, air, light and nutrients for
survival, and that humans use plants in a variety of ways.
Plants require water, air, light, and nutrients for sun/ival.14
l Humans
For Every
use plants for food, clothing, shelter, and other needs. 5
Four Students:
0 -
scotch tape
For Each Pair of Students:
1 Plant Puzzle Grid
1 set of Plant Puzzle cards - See step #l of procedure
markers or crayons
resealable plastic bag or envelope
TIME: 1 thirty-minute session
After completing several experiments, the students should take time to review what they
have learned from their experiments. Plants require water, air, light, and nutrients for
survival. The connection between plants and human survival should also be reinforced.
Humans need oxygen that plants produce and need plants for food. People also use plants for
shelter and clothing. Students should also be reminded that animals other than humans
depend on plants for survival.
Copy the pictures titled Plants Give Us... on the back of the page with 16 cards. Make
enough of these papers for half of your class, plus a few extras. Cut out each set of twenty
cards, mix them up and place them in plastic bags or envelopes.
Divide your students into groups of 2.
Review with your students the four basic things plants need to grow--water, air, nutrients,
and light. Tell them they are about to do a puzzle that shows them how humans are dependent
on plants. Pose the question: In what ways do humans use plants? Make a list of
responses on the chalkboard or a wall chart.
4. Have each pair of students do the following:
a Note there are numbers on each of the cards. Each one corresponds to the row the clue
must be in.
b. The students must read each clue and see where it fits in the grid.
c. The students should compare their answer with another team of two. Have them discuss
their differences and reach a consensus, if possible.
d Next, the students need to carefully tape the puzzle cards together WITHOUT taping them
to the grid.
e. Have the students turn over their taped pieces to reveal the puzzle! Have them color
their puzzle.
Students should realize that humans should respect living things and support their survival.
Humans should have a vested interest in the fact that plants require water, air, nutrients,
and light because plants provide humans with oxygen, food, shelter, clothing and a variety of
other things.
1 . Make a bulletin board or wall chart titled Why People Need Plants. Fill this bulletin
board with actual samples of products used by humans. Examples may include clothing
(cotton, wool), rope, food, cosmetics, furniture, homes, etc. It may also include a few
plastic items and synthetic fabrics, after you discuss how fossil fuels (dead plants and
animals millions of years old) are needed to make these items.
Do a Whats in the Bag? activity. Find several examples of plant products (sunflower
seeds, piece of wood, cotton ball, etc.). Place each plant product in a paper bag and seal the
bag with masking tape. Number each bag. Pass the bags around the room and have students
guess whats in each bag and write their predictions on a piece of paper. Open each bag and
discuss why these items come from a plant and how it enhances human life.
Have the students build the picture puzzle first, then have them read information that builds
the grid.
Plant Puzzle Grid
Plant Puzzle
Row 1 Row 1 Row 1 Row 1
I am made only I am made of Plants absorb us I am energy
of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, through their
oxygen nltrogen, water roots
vapor, and other
Row 2 Row 2 Row 2 Row 2
I cover most of You can rarely We are the If I am not
the earths see me vitamlns for showing, It is
surface and look plants dark
Row 3 Row 3 Row 3 Row 3
Plants absorb me I may once have We come from Plants are
through their been In a rocks and dead special because
roots persons lung plants and they can capture
animals me
Row 4 Row 4 Row 4 Row 4
Farmers Irrigate Special openings We are I make plants
their field with in plant leaves sometimes called green and help
me allow me to fertilizers plants make
enter thelr own food
6 0
The purpose of these activities is for students to realize that all clear liquids are not just
plain water and that the type of water plants get is one factor that determines a crops
l Plants need water. The type of water they need depends on their chemical make-up. 6
l Water types vary; thus, they differ in the types and amounts of nutrients available to
plants.1 7
TIME : 1 thirty-minute session--introduction and set up
10 minutes daily for one week-observation and watering
1 twenty-minute session--conclusion
For the Class:
1 gallon each of the following liquids:
distilled water
tap water
salt water (l/2 cup salt to 1 gallon water)
acidic water (1 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon water)
l 4 sealable clear containers (canning jars, 1 gallon plastic milk or water containers, 2
liter soft drink bottles, etc..) to store above liquids
l 12 plants each 203 high, each planted in a separate pot-you may start your own bean
or pea plants 2-3 weeks before the experiment or purchase 2 6-packs of seedlings
(marigolds, beans, squash or primroses)
l 4 pans for plants to be stored in
. 0
Water quality is a critical issue for todays society. The amount of fresh water is limited,
and the quality of the fresh water must be maintained and/or improved. This experiment
will show students how plants are affected by water quality. It is easy to simulate certain
situations-salt water can represent ocean water and the build up of salts on land. Vinegar
water can represent acid rain, hot water can represent water that is hot when it is released
from factories and power plants, and pond water can represent unsanitized fresh water. A
lot of research and education is being done so that the
people while working and recreating.
1. In advance, prepare one clear glass jar of each of the
water, salt water, white vinegar and water.
water quality is considered by all
following liquids: tap water, distilled
2. Show the jars to the students and ask them what they think is in each one. After theyve
made their predictions, tell them what each jar contains.
Discuss that clear liquids are not
always water. Regular tap water has various substances dissolved in it, such as chlorine,
fluorine, minerals, etc.
3. Set up a class experiment where students will plant beans and water them with different
types of water. Water types include distilled water, acidic water ( 1 cup white vinegar to 1
gallon water), tap water, and salt water ( l / 2 cup salt to 1 gallon water).
a Divide the class into four groups.
b. Have your students complete the predictions section of their worksheet.
c. Have each group water three of the plants with one type of water. (Three plants are
used so that students can make generalizations about their results rather than rely
on one plant.) Make sure that different drain pans are used for plants watered with
different water solutions.
d At the conclusion of the experiment, have your students complete their worksheet.
4. After noticeable results occur (in approximately one week), discuss how this experiment
relates to agriculture, pollution, etc.
Water quality is very important in plant growth. Poor water quality will affect how much
food is available for humans and other animals.
Do the same experiment with seeds rather than seedlings.
Make a mystery out of the lesson. Do not tell the students what they are watering their plants
with. Have them guess what the liquids are, or let
1 . Test the effects of hot water, cold water, and pond water on plant growth.
2. Invite a farmer and/or sewage treatment employee
maintain water quality.
to discuss what is being done to improve
them be surprised when some of the plants
3. Obtain a variety of materials from the Water Education Foundation to learn
more about water.
6 2
WATERS WATERS WATER! OR IS IT? Name _____----_--- - - - - -
We will water our plants with different watering solutions. We will water cup #l with .___________~
cup #2 w i t h ___-_______-__________________-, c u p #3 wi t h ________________________---#
a n d cup #4 wi t h --___----_________________-_--
cup Wl cup u2 cup #3 cup w4
Our Results
1. After looking at your results, do you think corn would grow well if watered with ocean water? Why or
2. Many parts of the world have problems with acid rain. Acid rain is formed when pollution in the air mixes with rain. Do
you think acid rain could be a problem for plants? Why?NVhy not?
- -
3. Explain why farmers must be concerned with the types of water they use on their crops.
The purpose of this experiment is for students to carefully examine the root system of a plant
and understand that roots specifically root hairs, are needed so water and nutrients can be
l Plants consist of basic plant parts that perform specific functions. Most plants have root
systems that absorb nutrients and water? *
For the Class:
l light source
l tap water--approximately 1 gallon
test tube racks
For Every Four Students:
1 eye dropper
1 small cup to hold water
For Each Student:
l one 10 or 25 milliliter
0 1 or 2 pieces of school
0 1 radish seed
0 1 #2 pencil
1 test tube label
l tape attached to label
0 1 Wy Root Has Hair!
test tube (plastic
paper towel cut to appropriate size (see procedure step #I) ,
worksheet (optional)
TIME: 1 forty-minute session--introduction and set up
5- 10 minutes daily for five days-observation and watering
1 thirty-minute session--activity and conclusion
Roots are essential to most plants. Root systems anchor plants into the ground and absorb
water and nutrients. Plants that live in water, such as seaweed and algae, do not have roots
since they can directly absorb what they need from the water around them. Some seaweeds
have footholds that help anchor the plants.
There are many types of root systems. The two most common root systems are fibrous roots
and tap roots. Fibrous roots are shallow roots that spread over a wide area. Most grasses have
fibrous roots. Tap roots are large, central roots that grow deep within the soil. Radishes and
carrots are examples of plants with tap roots. Both fibrous roots and tap roots have root hairs.
Root hairs are tiny roots which grow off larger roots and are used to increase the surface area
of the root systems so that enough nutrients and water can be absorbed.
Roots are said to be geotropic. That is, they always grow down towards the center of the earth.
For this reason, farmers do not usually need to worry about which ways seeds are planted in
the ground.
1 . Obtain 1 test tube for each student. Measure the length and circumference of the test tubes
you will use in this procedure. Cut school paper towels into rectangles that are as wide as
the test tube circumference and as long as the test tube. Each student will need one piece of
paper towel, cut to size., Have a few extra paper towels available.
2. Each student will do the following procedure. A My Root Has Hair handout is provided.
Roll the paper towel piece tightly around a pencil as shown. Slip the paper towel off of
the pencil and slide it into the test tube.
Carefully slide a radish seed between the glass tube and the paper towel so that it is about
l / 2 inch below the top of the test tube. The students should be able to see the radish seed
through the tube. This may take several tries for some students, so have extra paper
towel strips ready and/or use parent helpers.
Using an eye dropper, add enough water in the test tube so that the paper towel is
completely wet and so there is about l/2 of water at the bottom of the tube. The
radish seed should not be slttlng In water or It will rot.
Label the test tube with your name or initials and tape it around the top of the test tube
with clear tape. The label should be on the opposite side of the seed so you can still see
the radish seed.
e Place the test tube in a test tube rack, remembering where it is located in the rack. The
test tube rack should be stored in a safe, well-lit place.
f. Observe the radish seed every day and water it when necessary.
g. Observe the root system. It will soon look like there is hair growing off of the root. This
is called root hair. These tiny little hairs grow in the soil. (It is not mold.). Root hairs
increase the surface area of the root so that sufficient amounts of water and nutrients
can be absorbed. Without root hairs, plants would die.
h. After about 5 days, pull the radish seed out of the test tube. The paper towel will
probably come with it. Carefully remove the paper towel. Observe the root system with
a hand lens. Can you find the primary root, secondary roots, tertiary roots, and root
hairs? Use the picture as a guide and a hand lens to obsenre the root system up close.
ap Root Fibrous Roots
Root systems are a lot more complex than they first might appear. They absorb water and
nutrients so that plants can grow.
1. Place school paper towels in aluminum pie plates or on another waterproof flat surface.
Scatter radish seeds on the paper towel. Cover the seeds with paper towels. Keep the towels
moist, but not wet, for about 4 days. Remove the top paper towels and obsewe the root hairs.
2. As a class, weed a garden or part of the school grounds. Examine the various types of root
systems. Using hand lenses, see if you can locate root hairs.
Grow a hyacinth bulb or red onion in a clear jar containing water. Allow the bottom l/4 of
the bulb to touch the water. Mayonnaise and other small mouth jars can be used. You might
want to plant this so students have flowers to give as gifts on Mothers Day.
Remove root hairs from radish sprouts and see what happens. (The plants will not survive.)
1 I plmtcd a ra_M-~ sc,cd IIT a test tube Ths 1s what It locks like:
uay I uay z uay 3 vay 4
2. This is an example of a taproot. 3 This is an example of a fibrous root. 4. Radishes are taproots/f ibrous roots
(circle one)
Primary root
Secondary root
Root hairs
Root hairs
5. Plants need roots because:
After these activities, the students should better understand the importance of returning to the
soil what is removed from it and that all matter on this planet is used over and over again. They
will review the facts that nutrients from the soil are used by plants, humans eat plants, and
organic waste (food, etc.) can be put back into the soil to be used again by another plant.
l Living things depend on other living things in many ways.lg
+ Decomposers use organic material for food.**
l Nutrients are recycled as living things die and decompose?
For the Class:
. .
l Lyrics to Dirt Made My Lunch, and Decomposition by the Banana Slug String Band
( pr ovi ded) 4
l Tree or shrub--a local nursery may donate one
l Supplies for at least one of the following:
an outdoor location or place to maintain a compost bin
l purchased compost bin or 4 wire fencing material to make a 3-4 ft diameter ring and
four 4x4 ft wooden posts.
soil-approximately 2 cubic feet of any type.
10-10-10 or 8-8-8 granular fertilizer (approximately 3-4 cups)
l tree trimmings
l lawn clippings
l cat litter or alfalfa meal (optional)
organic wastes from gardens, school landscaping, school lunches, school pets, coffee
grounds, newspapers, etc.
rain water or tap water
. . .
Co- With A Wa
1 two liter bottle
1 bottle base removed from additional bottle
red worms: you can order them from Flowerfield Enterprises in Kalamazoo, MI (616-
327-0108)~-they sell red worms by the pound.
bait stores.
You can also buy redworms at fishing
l Bottle Basic Tools: scissors, nails, heat source, razor blade, pen or grease pencil
Mini Decomboser Ecosvstem
l empty aquarium (5-15 gallons)
gravel or pebbles--enough to cover bottom of aquarium 1 inch deep
soil--enough to cover aquarium 1 inch deep
6 8
small log or item for animals to crawl on
l 3-6 earthworms (can be dug up or purchased at a b&t shcf~)
l 2-3 garden snails
l 1- 2 mealworms-can be purchased at a pet shop (optional)
1 item from each student that s/he wishes to decompose
small container to hold water, or a spray bottle to mist the eco6ys;taran
TIME: 1 forty-minute session--introduction and set up
S- 15 weeks for decomposition process to occur
Imagine what the planet would be like if dead organisms were not decomposed and turned into
soil building materials and nutrients! Decomposers are a crucial part of ail ecosystems.
Bacteria, fungi (mushrooms, molds), nematodes (microscopic roundworms), eatiworms, and
many insects eat dead plants, animals, and other organisms. Their waste products are the
nutrients plants need in order to grow. There are many ways your students can observe the
process of decomposition. ComDostina is a process where dead plants, animal manure,
newspapers, and other natural wastes are piled together and allowed to decompose at a faster
rate than they normally would. Properly composted organic matter will not have sproutable
seeds or unbearable smells. Vecm&mposm means worm compostk# and is an interesting,
yet simple, way for students to obsenre worms recycling waste products into useful organic
matter. A classroom maser ecosm is another way for students to observe the
process of decomposition.- It clearly shows how some substances, such as plastics, are resistant
to decomposition.
Choose one, two, or all three of the decomposition activities to do with your students.
Sing the songs Dirt Made My Lunch and Decomposition by the Banana Slug String Band.
(Lyrics are provided. The band has a tape available for purchase. See the Educational Resources
Discuss the lyrics of the songs.
Have the students set up at least one of the three decomposition activities-Outdoor Compost
Bin, Composting With A Wiggle, or Mini Decomposer Ecosystem.* They wiH observe waste
products being cycled back into organic matter.
At the end of the school year, observe your system one last time and then open it up and put the
nutrients back into the earth. Observe what the system looks like and how it differs from its
original appearance. Sing Dirt Made My Lunch and Decomposition once again and discuss
how dirt actually makes your lunch and lunch also makes dirt!
Plant a tree or shrub at your school and use the organic matter, produced by this activity, to
fertilize it.
Your students should understand the basic concept of nutrient cycling and the importance
decomposers play in providing plants with nutrients and keeping our planet clean.
CHORUS: Dirt made my lunch, dirt made my lunch.
f C
Thank you dirt, thanks a bunch
For my salad, my sandwich, my milk, my munch.
Dirt made my lunch.
am r,
Dirt is a word we often use
4n c
When we talk about the earth beneath our shoes.
Its a place where plants can sink their toes
And in a little while a garden grows.
A farmers plow will tickle the ground.
You know the earth has laughed when wheat is found.
The grain is taken and flour is ground
For making a sandwich to munch on down.
A stubby green beard grows upon the land.
Out of the soil the grass will stand
But under hoof it must bow
For making milk by way of a cow.
Reprinted with permission of the Banana Slug String Band.
Is there waste? Well I dont know.
0 G7
One thing dies to let another grow.
This circle we see most every day.
D c 0
The name that we call it is decay.
0 F c
CHORUS: Well come all you people gather round
F c
Breakdown and listen to decomposition.
Group 1:
D c,
Group 2:
Comes in and goes out first saying,vunch, munch...&
Comes in and goes out second saying, Decomposition.
Group 3: Comes in and goes out third saying, Get down, breakdown...
There are many kinds of
Worms and snails and banana slugs.
They are useful for me and you,
The help to make the soil renew.
Decomposition is a useful game.
A tree drops its leaves but they dont stay the same.
A bug chews them up and spits them back out,
Making the soil for a new tree to sprout.
Reprinted with permission of the Banana Slug String Band.
There are many ways to make compost. You can purchase a ready-made compost bin or make one
of your own. You can use any type of fencing materials that can be wrapped to form a cylinder
that is 3-4 feet in diameter and about 34 feet high.
A more complex compost bin is illustrated below:
Wure fencmg
Here are some important things to remember about making compost.
1 in.4 in. sod. 2 cups 1-k layers 6 in.4 in. twtgs
lOlG10 a 8-M a brush fa
brtimr,2w aciuatm
agfiamfal Iii
Begin your compost pile with twigs or brush for aeration.
After adding about one foot of organic matter, add 1-2 inches of soil and 1 cup of 10-l O-10
or 8-8-8 ferti l i zer.
. .
Allow air to get into the pile so the micro-organisms can breath. Mix the compost pile about
once a week.
Layer the pile with various materials so the compost will contain a variety of nutrients. A
pile of lawn clippings will not become organic matter very quickly unless other things are
added to it.
Do a add meat scraps to the bin except in very small quantities.
Do m add a lot of kitchen waste, meat scraps or lawn clippings at one time. The pile will
tend to get smelly. You might add a layer of cat litter or alfalfa meal to the pile every once in
a while to reduce the odor. Compost bins really should not smell if piled appropriately.
Keep a well-like depression on top of the pile so that rainwater can collect. If you do not get
rain frequently, water your compost periodically so it remains moist but not wet.
Experiment with composting to see how you can make the best for your garden or field.
Line the bottom of the aquarium with a thin layer of gravel and soil.
On top of the soil, place a small log, water in a container that can be changed, earthworms,
snails, mealworms and one item that each student wants to decompose. Items might include dead
leaves, old bread, fruit peel, paper, plastic, bottle caps, grass clippings, etc. Since this is going
to be in your classroom; you wiil want to limit the amount of kitchen
clippings you put in the system to keep smell to a minimum.
garbage and grass
Securely place a lid on top of the ecosystem--aquarium lid, screen.
freely in and out of the system.
Make sure air can flow
Make a list of what you put in.
Observe changes in the ecosystem on a weekly basis throughout the
. _
year. Your students will
observe the functions of decomposers and how certain items decompose quicker than others. At
the end of the year, examine your ecosystem carefully and see what substances remain.
What do earthworms eat? Why are they slimy? What good are they anyway?
Worms play a crucial role in the breakdown of many organic wastes, making them grand and
vital participants in the natural decomposition and recycling processes. As their name suggests,
earthworms live in soil. Some species live in the leaf litter on the soil surface, while others
dwell several meters below. The term vermicomposting comes from the Latin vennis meaning
worm: literally, vermicomposting means worm composting.
Bulldlng the Bottle
Remove label from bottle using hot water or
hair dryer. Peanut butter works well for
removing stubborn glue remnants; use 1-2
teaspoons of peanut butter on a warm bottle and
rub. (Some folks prefer chunky peanut butter
for this task, believing that the chunks add to
the success of the rub.)
Cut off the bottle top about 1 cm above the
If your bottle has an attached base, cut down
about three inches into the base--keeping it
glued to the bottle-and continue cutting around
its circumference until you remove the three
inch portion. This cut makes more of the
column visible. Be sure not to cut into the base
bottom--if you do this, the column will have
stability problems.
Melt four 0.5 cm holes with a large hot nail in a
ring around the base for drainage. These holes
should be placed low enough on the bottle so
excess liquid can drain out of the column.
Melt one or two rows of six to ten 3.0 mm holes
(using a smaller hot nail) around the bottle to
provide necessary aeration.
Use the second bottle base as a lid for the
Conrttuctlng a screen
Worms are creatures of the dark and will avoid light. Keep them happy and in the dark by
constructing a paper screen:
1. Cut a piece of dark paper about 4 cm taller than the finished bottle and wide enough to encircle
the entire column.
2. Tape the paper around the column, keeping it loose so that you can remove the screen easily.
Preparing the bedding
Many types of bedding can be used-shredded leaves, peat moss, or straw. We use newsprint-it is
clean and readily available, but dont let this keep you from EXPERIMENTING with your own
bedding mixtures!
Cut 840 pages of newsprint into 0.25-0.75 cm strips using shears or a guillotine straight
blade paper cutter. Cut these strips in half.
Toss the bedding like a fresh green salad. This is important because if the strips are not
separated, they will clump together when you moisten them.
Worms breathe through their skin and to do this they need to be wet. Keep their bedding moist
to accommodate this transfer of oxygen through their skin. This explains why earthworms are
slimy! Moisten the bedding in a bowl or bucket using 2-3 cups of water, adding more water if
necessary. Knead the water into the paper until it is saturated. Then drain the bedding well by
gently squeezing out excess water. Re-toss the bedding vigorously.
Mix a few tablespoons of soil into the bedding. This inoculates the bedding with natural soil
microorganisms which hasten breakdown and improve the quality of bedding.
Fill bottle 2/3 with the moist (but fluffy!) bedding.
Worms prefer a near neutral or slightly basic pH: 6.5-8.5. Mix some powdered lawn lime or
finely crushed eggshells into the bedding if a litmus paper test indicates that your column is too
Although worms are physically tough, the temperature of your column should stay within 20.
25 degrees Celsius. If the temperature rises above 35 degrees Celsius, your worms will cook!
Note:Although worms survive well in bottles, five gallon buckets (and other large containers)
often work better. In a bucket, you can maintain a larger worm colony for a longer period of time.
Simply follow the bottle, bedding and feeding procedures, adjusting quantities accordingly.
Institutional food buckets are perfect for this construction: check your school cafeteria. A couple
bucket pointers:
l Use a hand-drill for the drainage and aeration holes: make these holes about 7 cm in
l Fill the bucket only a little over half full with bedding.
l Make sure to keep the lid on the bucket at all times.
Feeding your worms
Worms cannot live on newsprint alone, though this might make an interesting experiment!
Add organic food every 3 to 4 days for as long as you have the worms- any sort of plant material
works, from kitchen wastes to leaves. Worms feed by sucking or pumping material into their
bodies with a muscular pharynx, so the food should be moist and in small (1-2 cm) pieces.
Feel free to add other foods besides plant matter: worms will eat pasta, pizza crusts, paper, coffee
grounds, etc. Meat, however, is a problem since it will spoil. Also, according to some worm
vermicomposting experts, lawn clippings can create a strong odor. Used sparingly, your worms
should have no problems with an occasional snack of grass! A rule of thumb: worms need 2 or 3
times their mass of food every few days. Place food directly on the bedding and then cover with
about 1-2 cm of moist bedding.
Maintaining the experiment
Simply follow the above guidelines to keep the worms alive. Then, just let them do their thing!
Keep them dark. Keep them cool. Keep them moist, but be careful about how much water you add-
not too much, not too little. Follow your nose. If things smell too nasty, something may be wrong.
All of these procedures can be tested and revised: use your own juddement and creativity!
(Reprinted with permission from Bottle Biology Project, Madison, Wisconsin)
The purpose of this activity is for students to have the opportunity to express
their conceptual understanding about what plants need in order to grow.
For the Class:
stuffed animal, hand puppet, or handmade creature named Ginny
l tape recorder (optional)
l tape (optional
l paper (optional)
TIME: 1 forty-minute session
One way to determine how much students have learned from an educational unit is
to see how well they can apply their knowledge to a new situation. This activity
allows the students to express their knowledge in a non-threatening way. Student
journals, portfolios and notebooks can be used as evaluation tools.
Bring out a creature that is from another planet (a stuffed animal or homemade
creature). Introduce the creature to the students.
Have the puppet explain to the students that she was sent to planet earth to learn
about plants. Her planet has just received an earth greenhouse and they want to
grow plants inside of it, but they are not familiar with plants from earth.
Have the students Indlvldually, using words and pictures, explain to this *
creature what earth plants are like, what they need to grow and how they should be
taken care of. Encourage them to remember the experiments they recently did on
After the students have done their individual work, have some students talk to the
creature while the rest of the class listens.
1. Have the students make their own galactic puppets out of paper bags or socks.
2. Have the students make a large poster that expresses their knowledge.
3. Have the students write their information in play form.
I .
Flip Book Template
Cut on dotted lines.
Staple on solid lines.
What is botany?
Botany is the study of plants. There are many different careers available to people who enjoy
working with plants. Plant lovers can enjoy careers as nursery workers, gardeners, farmers, or
landscape designers. Specialized studies are also available in areas such as plant anatomy, plant
history, fertilizer manufacturing, pest management, genetic engineering, natural plant
preservation, etc.
*Why has composting become so popular?
Composting is a mixture of decayed organic matter. With an increase in public concern over
environmental issues--such as overflowing landfills, increasing human population, decreasing
soil and water quality, and the reduction of fossil fuels--humans have looked for ways to reduce
the amount of natural resources used and to reuse and recycle the materials that are available.
Composting allows farmers and the public to take the organic wastes such as kitchen scraps and
lawn clippings and turn them into organic matter that can be used to fertilize plants. Cornposting
not only provides plants with nutrients but also improves soil quality. Adding organic matter to
the soil increases the amount of air available to plant roots and improves the soils ability to
absorb water. Composting also kills weed seeds that are not destroyed by the tilling of the soil or
animal digestion.
*Why do plants die If they get too much water?
Plants require energy to grow. Using light, plants are able to take water and carbon dioxide, a gas
from the atmosphere, and make food for themselves. After the food is produced, plants must
convert that food intd energy for growth- this process is called respiration and requires oxygen.
Respiration only occurs in the dark and must occur constantly. Normally, respiration occurs in
the roots of plants since plant roots are in dark soil. Under normal conditions, air, including
oxygen, is available to plant roots so respiration can occur. If the soil is too wet, there is not
enough oxygen available to the plants. Therefore, the plants cannot respire and will die. This is
similar to why animals die from a lack oxygen.
*Why do plants need fertlllzer?
Just like humans, plants require certain nutrients for survival. These nutrients are used to build
different plant components. For example, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are used to build plant
foods of sugars and starches; nitrogen is needed to make chlorophyll and plant proteins. * It is
believed that plants require 16 chemical elements. If the necessary elements are available to the
plants, fertilizers do not need to be added to soils. It is when nutrients are thought to be lacking
that fertilizers are added. Fertilizers can be natural, such as manures and composts, or processed,
such as store-bought concentrated fertilizers.
*What do the three numbers mean on a fertlllzer label?
The three numbers on a fertilizer label stand for the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and
potassium in that particular fertilizer. These three elements are the major nutrients required by
plants for growth and reproduction. For standardization, nitrogen is always listed first, followed
by phosphorus and then potassium. When buying a fertilizer, one should consider the nutrients
that their plants need and buy a fertilizer high in the required nutrients.
*Why do some fertilizers require people to wear protective clothing such as
masks or gloves?
Most commercial fertilizers are more concentrated than natural manures and composts. They are
also applied in salt form. Large quantities of salt draw water out from cells and cause them to
dehydrate. This can cause irritation to skin cells, eyes, and lungs. For most household fertilizers,
rinsing exposed areas with generous amounts of water will prevent damage. However, it is always
better to be cautious when applying chemicals of any type.
8 1
*Why do plants die If they get too much tertillzet?
Most fertilizers are applied as salts. Any type of salt is water-loving-it attracts water.
Fertilizers draw water from plant cells. If too much fertilizer is applied to a plant, the plant cells
dehydrate and become brittle and sometimes discolored. This is called burning plants, The plants
are not actually on fire, they just do not contain any water.
*Why do plants grow towards the light?
Plants are phototropic. They are attracted to light because they need it foe energy. The process
that causes plants to grow towards the light is very interesting. All plants have a growth hormone,
auxin, that only functions in the dark. Imagine a plant in a window-the stem has a sunny side
(the side facing the window) and a shady side (the side not facing the sun). Since the hormone only
functions in the shade, the shady side of the plant cells elongate. The shady side of the plant grows
faster than the sunny side of the plant, thus causing the plant to lean over and face the sun.
In what ways do manures beneflt plant growth?
Manures are animal excrements. Manures contain nutrients that can be used by plants and organic
matter that improves soil texture. Plants must not only have nutrients, but must also grow in soil
that has good aeration and can hold water. Animal manures vary in nutrient composition, depending
on the type of animal and the diet of the animal.
*HOW are fettlllzers made?
Fertilizers can be natural or gman-made.m Natural fertilizers are substances such as manures
and composts. Nitrogen can be made available to plants by the natural process of nitrification,
where bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen to nitrogen that can be used by plants. Many
fertilizers are manufactured in factories using materials from the earth and atmosphere.
Atmospheric nitrogen, nitrogen from the air, can be converted to ammonia or nitrates through a
complex factory process. Phosphorus is usually made into fertilizer by mining phosphate rock and
combining it with sulfuric acid (which comes from fossil fuels). Potassium often is obtained from
salt deposits throughout the world like those of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
What Is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a process in which plants, normally grown in soil, are grown in water. This is
possible when the required nutrients are available in the water and the plants have some sort of
support system to hold them up. The science of hydroponics is growing, but is not seen as an
immediate solution in solving the world hunger problem.
Why does manure smell?
Bacteria and other organisms decompose manure converting it to organic matter. During this
process the bacteria release different gases as their waste products. Some of these gases smell.
Ammonia substances are commonly given off as bacterial decomposition by-products. Another
interesting fact about smell is that the more smell that is given off, the less efficient the bacteria
are in decomposing matter. The ammonia is released into the atmosphere rather than converted
into the organic matter that can be used by plants.
Why do plants yellow If they do not have enough nutrlents?
Yellowing is a sign of an unhealthy plant. There are many causes of yellowing but, generally, it
means that the process of chlorophyll formation is interrupted. Chlorophyll is the green substance
in plants that is able to absorb energy from the sun and is used to convert carbon dioxide and water
into sugars and starches. The main chemical formula for chlorophyll is C~~H~~O~NqMg. As the
chemical formula illustrates, certain elements are needed to build the molecule. Other elements,
such as iron, are needed as
are not available, chlorophyll
catalysts to help form chlorophyll molecules. If the required nutrients
cannot be produced and the plant turns yellow and eventually dies.
AIMS activity books, AIMS Education Foundation; P.O. Box 7766, Fresno, CA 93747.
These books contain hands-on activities that integrate math and science and contain wonderful
graphics and ideas for grades K-8. Request a current catalogue.
Banana Slug String Band, P.O. Box 2262 Santa Cruz, CA 95063; (408) 476-5776.
This educational band, geared towards elementary students, provides a variety of educational music
materials about science concepts and the environment.
mm, Jorie Hunken, et al.; The Globe Pequot Press, 138 West Main Street,
Chester, Connecticut, 06412.
This easy to read book for all ages provides interesting facts about plants, as well as many hands-
on ideas that teach general botany concepts.
Bottle Biolo& Bottle Biolbgy Program; University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of
Plant Pathology, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; ( 608) 263- 5645.
Bottle Biology is an inexpensive, motivating way to teach hands-on biology using one and two liter
plastic bottles. Sign up to be put on their mailing list for newsletters.
California Fertlllzer Associations Lendlng Llbrary of
Street, Suite .l30, Sacramento, CA 95814. ( 916) 441- 1584.
Motion Pictures, 1700 I
A variety of videos and slides are available that discuss fertilizer
(middle/high school).
use and water quality
Conservlna SoIt, National Association of Conservation Districts
855, Dept. SCS, League City, Texas 77573; ( 916) 324- 0864.
Sewice Department; P.O. Box
24 activity masters, four color transparencies, and teacher guide
(Middle-Secondary) approximately $8.50.
about soil history and uses.
Fields Of Gold Vldeo, California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom; 1601
Exposition Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95815; (916) 9244380.
This 28 minute historical video shows the relationships of agriculture with California history.
Jhe Growina Classroom, Roberta Jaffe and Gary Appel; Addison-Wesley Publishing Company,
Jacob Way, Reading, MA 01867; ( 800) 447- 2226.
This activity-packed teacher sourcebook makes elementary science and nutrition education an
unforgettable experience for students as they experiment with indoor and outdoor gardens. (K-6)
GMVinQ Seeds. Growina Minds Kathryn 8. Donald; California Association of Nurserymen,
4620 Northgate Boulevard, Suite ;55, Sacramento, CA 95834. (916) 567-0200.
Hands-on horticultural activities and experiments that assist K-6 students in learning scientific
process skills.
Hands-On Science, Dorthea Allen; Center For Applied Research in Education, Business and
Professional Division, West Nyack, New York 10995.
112 easy to use and interesting activities.
content in foods, earthworm farms, etc.
Includes simple lessons on solid-waste management, fat
Healthy Choices: Balanced Meals, Dairy Council of California; 1101 West National Drive,
Sacramento, CA 95834. (916) 920-7691.
10 lesson unit teaching basic skills.
program. (Second Grade) Free.
Free optional workshops offer ideas on implementing the
Linneas Windowsill Garden, by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson; R and S Books, Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, New York, 1988.
Simple to read and use facts and experiments are
experiment with plants. (Middle Grades) $12.
uniquely illustrated to motivate
people to
The No Waste AntholQgy, California Department of Health Services Toxic Substances Control
Program; P.O. Box 942732, Sacramento, CA 94234-7320., (916) 322-0476.
A compilation of environmental education activities for grades K-12 to assist educators in
implementing the Environmental Education Framework.
Plants-Posters and Remoduclble Paaeg, Jo Ellen Moore and Joy Evans, Evan Moor
A series of worksheets for primary students that discusses plant parts and plant growth.
The Plant Doctor, California Agriculture Production Consultants Association (CAPCA), 1608 I
Street, Suite 105, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 443-2476.
A series of six lessons that provide 4th.6th graders with hands-on activities that teach
proper plant fertilization and pest control. Experimental equipment free upon request.
Proiect Wild, Western Regional Environmental Education Council and Western Association of
Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Salina Star Route, Boulder, Colorado 80302. (303) 444-2390.
This is an interdisciplinary, supplementary
program emphasizing wildlife.
environmental and conservation K-12 education
Ag Alert--A Weekly Newspaper on Callfotnla Agriculture, California Farm Bureau
Available to Farm Bureau.members, this weekly newspaper provides readers with articles on
current issues in agriculture. Contact your local county Farm Bureau to order this
&&&Ure and Fe-, Oluf Chr. Bockman; Norsk Hydro, 1990.
This book provides readers with different perspectives about fertilizers and fertilizer use as
well as detailed fertilizer science facts. Contact the California Foundation for Agriculture in
the Classroom, (916) 9244380, for information on how to order this book.
, United States
This yearbook examines environmental concerns facing agriculture, and indicates what the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is doing to address these concerns. This
publication is made available by your local congressmen or can be ordered from the U.S.
Government Printing Office.
urlsclence-Fundamentals and Aoollcatlons
Elmer L. Cooper: Delmar Publishers, Inc., 1990.
This high school agriscience textbook presents general information taught in introductory high
school agricultural science classes. It is a great reference to have for student research and
teacher background information.
/ilternatlve Aarlculturq, Committee on the Role of Alternative Farming Methods in Modem
Production Agriculture, National Research Council Board on Agriculture; National Academy Press,
Washington D.C., 1989.
This report examines, in detail, the science and economic viability of alternative agricultural
systems such as crop rotation and biological pest control so that many challenges facing
agriculture today can be overcome. To order this book, call l-800-624-6242.
allfornla Farme& Farm Progress Companies, Inc..
This colorful monthly magazine contains articles on current agricultural issues as well as
editorials, classified ads, weather information and more. Write to P.O. Box 11375, Des
Moines, IA 50340-l 375 for subscription information.
Clear Facts About Clean Water, The Fertilizer Institute; 1990.
This pamphlet provides detailed information about water contamination, especially
groundwater, drinking water and nitrate contamination. To request a class set of these
pamphlets, contact Amy Jo Matthews at The Fertilizer Institute, 501 Second Street NE,
Washinton D.C. 20002.
Fertilizer--perception and Reality pamphlet, The Fertilizer Institute.
This pamphlet provides factual information on fertilizers and specifically addresses many of
the perceptions associated with fertilizer use. For ordering information, write to The
Fertilizer Institute, 501 Second Street NE, Washing-ton D.C. 20002.
b Glossarv of Farm TermsD
United States Department of Agriculture; 1983.
This booklet provides definitions to hundreds of agricultural terms. This is a great reference
to have available to students during reading or writing assignments. Order from Ag in the
Classroom, USDA, Rm 318-A. Administration Building, Washington, D.C. 20250.
improving Plant Production for Human Health and Environmental Quality
Handbooks, Potash and Phosphate Institute.
Five different comic book-type, easy to understand pamphlets provide the reader with
information on various plant nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. To order
these booklets, write to PPI, Suite 410, 2801 Buford Hwy, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.
t it Roc Jhe Gardeners Guide to Corngas-@
Stu Campbell.
Uvina in the Fnvlronm, G. Tyler Miller, Jr.; Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1992.
This college environmeptql science textbook contains thorough, yet easy to understand,
information about various factors that affect the environment. It also contains many short
articles written by key authors that encourage the students to think of all sides of issues before
making decisions.
Oraanic Soil Amendments and Fertilizers David E. Chaney, et al.; Regents of the University
of California, Division of Agriculture and Nat&al Resources, 1992.
This booklet describes soil organic matter and discusses a variety of organic soil amendments
such as manures, composts, sewage sludge, and marine products. Call (510) 842-2431 for
ordering information.
Science Framework for California Public Schools Kfnderaarten Throuah Grade
Twelve, Science Curriculum Framework and Criteria Committee; California Department of
Education, 1990.
This document provides suggested guidelines for science education throughout California. All
science educators should have a copy of the framework available to them. Themes and concepts
are outlined, as well as guidelines on classroom management and teaching skills. Write to the
Bureau of Publications, Sales Unit, California Department of Education, P.O. Box 271,
Sacramento, CA 95802-0271 for order information.
Sunset-New Western Garden Book
. Sunset Magazine Editors: Lane Publishing Company, 1989.
This easy-to-use gardening book, written for gardeners of the western United States, provides
general information on soils, pest control, planting techniques, and fertilizing and problem
solving tips and plant selection guides. Available at most bookstores; this is a must for your
student and teacher reference library.
Seeds of Chanae, Herman J. Viola and Carolyn Margolis; Smithsonian Institute Press, 1991.
This beautifully illustrated book provides an ovewiew of American agriculture in
commemoration of Columbus voyage to the New World.
Soil Fertlllty Manual, Potash and Phosphate Institute; 1987.
This manual, written for farm advisors, provides basic agronomy concepts in an easy to
understand manner. Soil components, fertilizers, and plant nutrient requirements are some of
the key points discussed in this booklet.
oil Science and m, Edward J. Plaster; Delmar Publishers Inc., 1985.
This college-level soil science book provides detailed information on introductory soil science.
Western Fertlllzer Handbook Soil Improvement Committee and the California Fertilizer
Association; The Interstate Priniers and Publishers, Inc., 1990.
This well-organized book provides information on the nutrient requirements of plants and
nutrient management strategies. Contact the California Fertilizer Association at ( 916) 44%
1584 for ordering information. This should definitely be part of your reference library for
use by teachers and students.
Ag Access
603 4th Street
Davis, CA 95616
(916) 756-7177
This bookstore specializes in agricultural information.
Knowledgeable personnel can help you
find the resource books you need. Write or call for a free catalog.
California Association of Resource Conservation Districts
3830 U Street
Sacramento, CA 958 17
(916) 639-6251
This organization has many soil science activities for all grade levels, including a popular
comic book titled Amazing Soil Stories.
California Fertilizer Associatibn
1700 I Street, Suite 130
Sacramento, CA 958 14
(916) 441-1584
This association has various videos and pamphlets on general and technical information of
fertilizer manufacturing, application, safety, and more!
California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom
1601 Exposition Blvd. FB 16
Sacramento, CA 95815
( 916) 924-4380
The Foundation has a wealth of materials for educators, including a teacher resource guide that
provides information on how to order free or low cost materials for the classroom that promote
agricultural information. Educator workshops and conferences on integrating agriculture into
the classroom occur several times a year. Be sure to get on the mailing list!
Deimar Publishers, inc.
2 Computer Drive West, Box 15-015
Albany, New York 12212-5105
This company publishes a variety of agriculturally-related science books.
The Fertilizer institute
501 Second Street, NE
Washington D.C. 20002
This association has various videos and pamphlets on general and technical information of
fertilizer manufacturing, application, safety, and more!
17 Colt court
Ronkonkoma, New York 11779
(516) 737-l 133
This company ha,s for purchase, a variety of science kits for student use, as well as
inexpensive chemtrays.
1524 Princeton Avenue
Modesto, CA 95352-3837
( 8 0 0 ) 558-9595
This company has classroom science and agricultural science educational supplies available for
purchase. Request their science and/or agricultural sciences catalogs.
Potash and Phosphate institute
Suite 401
Atlanta, GA 30329
This organization has colorful, easy to read booklets on potassium, phosphorus,
other plant nutrients. Write for a list of other materials they have available.
nitrogen and
University of California, Cooperative Extension
Cooperative extensions provide the public with general and technical information on various
topics, including agricultural information. The Master Gardeners, Future Farmers of America
(FFA) and 4-H programs are usually obtainable through this office. A pamphlet on current
publications available from the U.C. Cooperative Extension is also available. Check your local
phone book for your countys U.C. Cooperative Extension phone number and address.
University of California Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education Program
University of California
Davis, CA 95616
(916) 752-7556
This department can answer specific questions you have about sustainable agriculture and
current farming and gardening practices that are designed to enhance the environment.
Acid taln-rain that has a pH less than 7; acid rain is caused by the reaction of air particles
with water
Amendment-any material added to soil to make it more productive; usually used for added
materials other than fertilizers, such as lime or gypsum, but a fertilizer is an amendment
Carbon Dioxide (COs)-a gas in the air used by plants to make their own food
Cell--the basic unit of life; usually contain nuclei, mitochondria, ribosomes, cytoplasm,
endoplasmic reticulum, etc.
Chlorophyll-the green colored substance in plants that absorbs energy from sunlight
Compost--a mixture made of decaying organic material; it is used to fertilize plants
Cotyledon--the part of the seed that stores food for the young plant
Embryo--the tiny plant within the seed
Fertlllzer-any substance added to soil or water which increases the nutrients available to
Fibrous root-a root consisting of a mass of roots
Flower-the part of a plant that contains reproductive
Fruit-the part of the plant that holds seeds
Germlnatlon-the swelling and first growth of seeds
parts and attracts pollinators
Leaf--the flat part of the plant where photosynthesis occurs
Legume--normally a plant that has pods whose seeds split into two; often help with nitrogen
fixation; examples include beans and alfalfa
Manure--solid animal waste products; can contain some straw or other animal bedding material
Nltrogen-an element that naturally exists in
chlorophyll, DNA and RNA
air and is needed by plants to produce proteins,
Nutrlent, plant--any element taken in by a plant which is essential to its growth
Organic Matter--material in soil made from the decomposition of plants or animals: it
increases the soils ability to hold water and air
Organism--another name for a living thing
Oxygen (O&-a gas in the air used by humans in respiration: it is also used by plants to
convert sugars and starches to usable energy
Phosphorus--an element required by all plants that promotes root growth
PhotosynthesIs--the process in which sugars and starches are made from carbon dioxide, water
and the use of sunlight
Plumule--the baby leaves of a seed that will grow into true leaves
Potassium-an element required by all plants for carbohydrate production and the hardening of
tissues such as tree trunks
Resplratlon--the process where sugars, starches and other substances are converted into usable
energy for growth and reproduction; all living cells respire
Root Hairs--tiny hair-like structures that are on the ends of roots and assist in nutrient and
water absorption
Rudimentary Root--the young root of a plant embryo
Saline--another word for salt
Salt-the product of an acid reacting with a base; table
salt (sodium chloride) is only one type of
Seed--the small object that will grow into another plant
Soil--the top portioi of the earths surface that is used to grow plants
Stem--the part of the plant that supports the 3per part of the plants and transports nutrients
and water
Supplement--to add to something
Tap root-a root with one main roof that extends deep into the soil
91 .
The chapter and page numbers refer to the 1990 Science Framework for California Public Schools,
(Chapter 5 A-l p. 116)
(Chapter 4 B-4 p. 97)
(Chapter 5 A-2 p.18)
(Chapter 4, C-l p. 99; Chapter 5, C-l pp. 136-137)
(Chapter 5 A-l, pp. 116-l 18; Chapter 5 C-2, pp. 138-139)
(Chapter 4, B-3 p. 96)
(Chapter 5, A-2 pp. 118-l 19)
(Chapter 4, B-3 p. 96)
(Chapter 5, C-2 p. 139; Chapter 5, A-l p. 118)
(Chapter 4, B-4 p. 97)
(Chapter 4, C-2 p. 102)
(Chapter 5, A-4 p. 125)
(Chapter 5, C-l p. 136)
(Chapter 5, A-l p. 117)
(Chapter 5, C-4 p. 141)
(Chapter 5, A-l p. 116)
(Chapter 4, C-2 p. 101; Chapter 3, A-3 p.46)
(Chapter 5, A-2 p. 118; Chapter 5, A-l p. 116)
(Chapter 5, A-4 pp. 125-126)
(Chapter 5, C-2 p. 139)
(Chapter 5, C-2 p. 139)

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