Take an earthworm's view of the garden by digging into the soil and exploring its characteristics. Then investigate plant life cycles and their role in energy cycling through ecosystems. Through the topic of gardening, students in grades 35 can investigate the properties of soils, the role of organisms in ecosystems, the role of plants in energy flow, and plant life cycles.
Underground Adventure, ORC #9315
The activities in Underground Adventure
guide students through an outdoor field study of soil life and some of the variables that affect soil biodiversity. Through these activities, students will gain experience in scientific skills such as hypothesis, observation, and inference. When done together as a unit of study, the activities are designed to help students answer this research question: What is the relationship between the soil's physical properties, environmental and human factors, and soil biodiversity?
However, each activity is written as a stand-alone lesson so that you can focus your study of soil biodiversity on one or more variables as best fits your time and your students' needs. Simply tailor the research question to reflect the activities you will do or choose activities that will help answer research questions posed by students. In addition, this set of activities can serve as a model for students to design their own inquiry to study a research question that interests them.
The Dirt on Soil, ORC #9316
This content resource provides information about soil and soil ecosystems in an engaging way. There are three components to the site: Down and Dirty
, Field Guide
, and Soil Safari
. Down and Dirty
provides an overview of soil ecology and introduces students to the basic definition of soil and its structure. Students learn about the soil profile as the organizing concept of soil structure; they learn how soil forms by following a step-by-step "recipe" for making soil from solid rock; and they learn how soil is categorized. Field Guide
profiles species selected from each major type of soil organism, ranging from the largest animals to live underground to the smallest microorganisms. Each profile provides information on the organism's size and ecological role in creating and maintaining soil health. Soil Safari
is an interactive game that shows students the importance of the organisms and physical structures in soil at different-size scales. They can start at a size of 300 mm and go down to 0.003 mm (3 microns). The same organisms profiled in the Field Guide
appear here as characters in a goal-based learning game. Students are drawn through the exploration by a mission to find something living in the soil that can take care of a leaking toxic chemical.
Soil Ingredients, ORC #5251
This promising practice lesson provides students with the opportunity to examine the basic components of soil.
Soil Profile, ORC #5254
Students explore the components of soil in this promising practice lesson. Activities include creating a soil profile and examining soil texture and water-holding capacity. The extensions should be completed so that students have a greater opportunity to explore soils.
How Are Soils Classified? ORC #5258
This promising practice lesson gives students an opportunity to explore soil types. This lesson would be a good introduction to a unit on soils. When considered in the context of the learning cycle, this lesson would be a good exploration activity.
The Great Bean Race, ORC #6544
This best practice unit actively engages students by having them compete against classrooms from other regions to see which collaborative team can grow the tallest bean plant. Controlling for certain variables (including growth time and bean seeds), seven or eight teams in each classroom design and conduct a controlled bean-plant experiment to investigate ideal conditions for growth. Students synthesize bean-plant information into a newsletter that describes the project, their group plan, and facts about beans.
The Great Plant Escape, ORC #3721
Detective Leplant and his partners Bud and Sprout unlock the mysteries of plant life in this content resource. Each of the six cases examines a different aspect of plant life. Each case includes a case brief, facts, mysteries, and activities. The site includes a teacher's guide with suggestions for using the materials in the classroom. Additional background information on plant science is also included for the teacher's reference. This resource could be incorporated into a unit of study on plants.
Seed Growth, ORC #3108
Students will investigate how different variables affect seed growth. Variables include type of seed, medium (paper towels, various types of soil), amount of water, amount of light, temperature. The task assesses students' understanding of scientific inquiry including the following skills: observation, data collection, measurement, graphing, scientific questions. This task is designed to take students approximately 10 hours over about 2 weeks. This performance assessment is part of the PALS (Performance Assessment Links in Science) collection.
Plants and Animals: Partners in Pollination: Lesson Plan 1, ORC #4024
Students explore plant pollination in this promising practice lesson. The lesson objectives are to identify the plant parts involved in reproduction, identify the animal (bee) structures involved in pollination, and demonstrate how pollen moves from the male stamen to the female stigma. The lesson begins with the identification of plant structures and a discussion about the function of each structure. Students then identify the parts of a bee that function in nectar gathering and pollination. This is followed by an activity in which students simulate plant pollination. The lesson closes with a discussion about the benefits to both the bee and the plant in the pollination process.
Plants and Animals: Partners in Pollination: Lesson Plan 2, ORC #4025
Students explore the links between pollination and food production in this promising practice lesson. The lesson begins with a conversation about the importance of pollination to our food supply. Students are then presented with a scenario in which bees no longer exist. Students are asked to determine which foods they might eat at a barbeque that would be eliminated due to the lack of bees to pollinate plants. The lesson concludes with a discussion about the importance of bees in pollination.
Plants and Animals: Partners in Pollination: Lesson Plan 3, ORC #4026
The objectives of this promising practice lesson are to describe the complementary relationships between pollinators and the plants they pollinate and to identify adaptations that flowers have developed to "encourage" pollination. Students examine a picture of a trumpet flower while the teacher describes the habits of a honeybee and a hummingbird. Next they determine which organism is best suited to pollinate the trumpet flower. Students then pick characteristics for a pollinator and design a flower the pollinator might visit.
This site offers a wealth of information about gardening with children in general and about school gardening projects.
Avoid Misconceptions When Teaching About Plants, ORC #9942
This professional resource is an article about commonly held misconceptions related to plants. The author identifies some sources of misconceptions and then lists misconceptions by topic. Fifty misconceptions are identified in the article. References are included.
Online Biology Book, ORC #5239
Chapters 2024 of this online biology book provide background information for the teacher on plant structures and functions.
- Earth's nonliving resources have specific properties.
- Plants and animals have life cycles that are part of their adaptations for survival in their natural environments.
- Organisms perform a variety of roles in an ecosystem.