Monday, May 19, 2014

Experimenting with the Needs of a Plant


Let students experiment with a plant to see what happens when you vary the needs of a plant.  Ideas and resources from Raki's Rad Resources.


My students have (FINALLY) finished their plant projects.  What I thought would be a quick little project rolled into a really BIG project, but has also allowed for some really BIG learning, so we rolled with it!  That’s the name of the game in Education, right – be flexible and allow for student created learning!
The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources
First, my students broke into 4 (mainly student selected) groups.  Each group chose one of the needs of the plant: light, air, water and soil.  This would be the variable in their experiment.  All of the other needs would be their control.
Next, students decided what their variations would be.  They had 6 plants, so they came up with 6 variables.  For example,  my light group’s variables looked like this:
The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Creating Variations
For each variation, they hypothesized what they thought would happen.  The light groups hypotheses looked like this:
The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Writing Hypotheses
Once students had their variations and hypotheses determined, we labeled each pot in order to be very clear on how this plant was to be affected by the experiment.  I also discussed with each group the exact logistics of how they would put their variations in place.  For example:  How would they prevent light from getting to the plants that were not supposed to be receiving light?
  The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Labeling Variations
 photo The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Labeling Variations
As soon as everything was set up, we gave the students 10 minutes each day to water their plants and make their observations.  Students wrote down their observations in their science journal and also took photographs using our iPad cameras.  We kept up the experiment for 3 weeks (and probably could have used 1 more week – but Spring Break interrupted us!)
The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Making Observations
  The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Making Observations

Once we were done with our experiment, the students put all of their observations together, compiling their “data” and preparing their presentations.  Students had the choice of creating a movie, a Prezi, a poster, a slideshow, an essay or a set of graphs to present their data.  Posters are very popular in my classroom right now, so we ended up with 3 posters and the light group made an iMovie.
The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Presenting Data

The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Presenting Data
The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Presenting Data  



The Great Plant Experiment - Let students build experiments using the needs of a plant (air, soil, light, water) as the variables in a student designed experiment using the Scientific Method - Raki's Rad Resources - Working in groupsMy students took more ownership over this project than they have ever taken over anything before.  Many groups had variations that required them to move plants throughout the day, or even take a part of their recess to do something, like the air group spending 2 minutes every day blowing on one of their plants to provide it with additional Carbon Dioxide.  This was also a great experiment into team work and how to use each student’s strengths to the best use of the group.  The kids worked in multiage groups, and learned how to accommodate and help out their peers.The results of the project showed that they had learned a significant amount about the Scientific Method and about plants.
 If you are interested in using this project with your students, you can download the directions and sheets for the Great Plant Experiment at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources