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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Growing Pains: Assessing the Complexities in Plant Growth

Lesson Description:
In this lesson, students compare common food items with the parts of a plant, and then plant and grow their own plants. They learn about the potential problems and difficulties in assisting a plant's growth and reproduction. This lesson is best suited for 6th-12th graders and adheres to National Science Standards.
Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Thumb Challenge

Time Needed:
1 hour
Standards Addressed:
Grades 6-8

Science Standard 4- Knows about the diversity and unity that characterize life.
Benchmarks:
  • Knows ways in which living things can be classified
  • Knows that animals and plants have a great variety of body plans and internal structures that serve specific functions for survival
  • Knows evidence that supports the idea that there is unity among organisms despite the fact that some species look very different
  • (CTSS – ’Science’, ‘6-8’, ‘4’)

Science Standard 5- Understands the genetic basis for the transfer of biological characteristics from one generation to the next.
Benchmarks:
  • Knows that reproduction is a characteristic of all living things and is essential to the continuation of a species
  • Knows that the characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits
  • Knows that hereditary information is contained in genes, each of which carries a single unit of information
  • Knows an inherited trait of an individual can be determined by either one or many genes, and a single gene can influence more than one trait
  • Knows how dominant and recessive traits contribute to genetic variation within a species
  • (CTSS– ’Science’, ‘6-8’, ‘5’)

Science Standard 7- Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
Benchmarks:
  • Knows how an organism’s ability to regulate its internal environment enables the organism to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce, and maintain stable internal conditions while living in a constantly changing external environment
  • Knows factors that affect the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support
  • Knows relationships that exist among organisms in food chains and food webs
  • (CTSS – ’Science’, ‘6-8’, ‘7’)

Science Standard 16- Understands the scientific enterprise.
Benchmarks:
  • Knows that people of all backgrounds and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations engage in fields of science and engineering
  • Knows various settings in which scientists and engineers may work
  • Understands ethics associated with scientific study
  • Knows ways in which science and society influence one another
  • (CTSS – ’Science’, ‘6-8’, ‘16’)

Grades 9-12

Science Standard 4- Knows about the diversity and unity that characterize life.
Benchmarks:
  • Knows how organisms are classified into a hierarchy of groups and subgroups based on similarities that reflect their evolutionary relationships
  • Knows how variation of organisms within a species increases the chance of survival of the species, and how the great diversity of species on earth increases the chance of survival of life in the event of major global changes
  • (CTSS – ’Science’, ‘9-12’, ‘4’)

Science Standard 5- Understands the genetic basis for the transfer of biological characteristics from one generation to the next.
Benchmarks:
  • Knows the chemical and structural properties of dna and its role in specifying the characteristics of an organism
  • Knows that new heritable characteristics can only result from new combinations of existing genes or from mutations of genes in an organism’s sex cells, while other changes in an organism cannot be passed on
  • (CTSS – ’Science’, ‘9-12’, ‘5’)

Science Standard 7- Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
Benchmarks:
  • Knows how the interrelationships and interdependencies among organisms generate stable ecosystems that fluctuate around a state of rough equilibrium for hundreds or thousands of years
  • Knows ways in which humans can modify ecosystems and cause irreversible effects
  • (CTSS– ’Science’, ‘9-12’, ‘7’)

 Science Standard 16- Understands the scientific enterprise.
Benchmarks:
  • Understands that individuals and teams contribute to science and engineering at different levels of complexity
  • Understands the ethical traditions associated with the scientific enterprise and that scientists who violate these traditions are censored by their peers
  • Understands that science involves different types of work in many different disciplines
  • (CTSS– ’science’, ‘9-12’, ‘16’)

Materials Needed:
  • student journals
  • pens/pencils
  • paper
  • stapler
  • classroom blackboard
  • copies of “At Age 4,600-Plus, Methuselah Pine Tree Begets New Offspring" (one per student) 
  • resources about plants (computers with Internet access, almanacs, library resources, encyclopedias, etc.)
  • peas
  • apple
  • radish
  • spinach
  • celery
  • cauliflower
  • plant seeds (enough for class; recommended: peas, basil, tomato, marigold, lettuce)
  • soil (enough for class, non-fertilized)
  • large cups with holes punches in bottom (one per pair)
  • rulers (with millimeter markings, one per pair)  

School or Group:
The New York Times Learning Network
Contact Email:
service@greeneducationfoundation.org

The Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse is brought to you in partnership with

Center for Green Schools