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Part four is on Plants, Soil, and Nutrients
Title – Plants, Soil, and Nutrients, Oh My!
By – Alex Johnson-Jimenez
Subject – Science
Grade Level – 5th -6th grade
NOTE: This is lesson 4 of the Colonization of Mars Thematic Unit.
Here’s the Scientific Method Datasheet .
Students will explore and apply the scientific method as they explore the manner in which
plants feed, grow, and produce oxygen.
10 white carnations or celery sticks and several extras for additional experiments
5 small containers of food coloring (red usually works best)
Scientific method data sheet
5 small vases or clear glasses
2 pitchers of water
1 knife or exacto blade – optional (teacher will maintain possession of the knife at all times)
Several flower plants with the roots attached
Transparencies or posters of plant anatomy
Estimated Time: 60 minutes
Before class begins, place 4 different colored flowers in pop cans full of water. In a fifth can pour a food coloring into the water (I suggest red) and place a white carnation into the can. Over several minutes, the carnation will change color and appear either light pink or red. Place the arrangement of different colored carnations at the front of the room. Say to the class, “these are a type of flower called carnations. Perhaps you have seen them before. As you can see, they come in a variety of colors. However, one of these carnations is not really the color that it appears to be. I need you to write down the colors that you see and try and guess which of the carnations is not really the color that it appears to be. When you have guessed, explain how you think the flower came to be the color it currently is. Allow students to inspect the flowers but do not allow them to look in the cans.
Total time: 5 min.
1.When the timer goes off, ask students for their guesses and make tally marks on the board next to the colors. After several have guessed, ask other students for their explanation of the phenomenon. These do not need to be written as they already have them on paper.
2.Tell the class the correct answer, but do not explain how the flower came to have the color it does; only state that the flower used to be white. Explain that they will discover the answer later on there own. Total time: 3 min.
3.On the board write, The Scientific Method. Check for prior understanding or knowledge of this concept.
4.Explain the separate aspects of the scientific method: hypothesis, experiment, collection of data, evaluation of data, and re-testing. Ask how this is used in science and why it’s important to use. Try and direct the discussion towards understanding that scientists must first ask questions, state what they believe the answer is, try an idea out (experiment) to see if their answer works, collect the information from their experiment, decide if their answer was correct. Total time: 8 min.
5.Hand out the scientific method data sheet. Inform the students that they are going to practice the scientific method. Also inform them that the question they are going to be trying to solve is, “how can the color of the flower be changed and how does this happen?” Read the directions aloud as they follow along and have them write the question down in the space provided. Explain that they are going to be working in their groups and that each person needs to come up with an answer to the question (hypothesis); they may use the answer they had written earlier or come up with a new one. Also explain that they need to follow the directions carefully, work together, and decide on three of the hypotheses to test. All three hypotheses can be tested at the same time.
6.Pass out the white carnations, food coloring, glasses, and place the water pitchers on the sink or your desk. Have plenty of paper towels handy.
7.Check for understanding and answer questions. Set the timer for 15 min and go! Total time: 17 min.
8.After the timer has gone off, have students clean up their areas, and prepare to discuss their results.
9.Have each group report what hypothesis they used, how they tested the hypothesis, and what the results of their experiment were. Total time: 5 min.
10.Assuming that someone figured out how to get the carnation to change color, have that group direct the rest of the class in performing the experiment. If students did not figure this out, ask for other options from the rest of the class until someone mentions the correct procedure or you can give them a clue. Total time: 5 min.
11.Once everyone has had the opportunity to view the change, show the class the food coloring in the can of the colored carnation and ask, “what do you think will happen if I placed clear water back in the can?” Take answers, dump out the food coloring, and put clear water in the can. Eventually, the carnation will return to being white as the students have hopefully predicted.
12.Ask, “why do you think the carnation changed color?” Begin a discussion on how the stem has veins that move the nutrients throughout the plant’s body, like the veins in the human body. Use the posters or transparencies at this time. Pass out the plants with the roots still intact so that they can see and feel the roots.
13. Continue to discuss how the plant uses sunlight to manufacture energy and food, how carbon dioxide is taken in and oxygen expelled, and how soil types affect the type of plants that either flourish or perish. Give examples of plants the live in the arid, tropical, mild, cold, or aquatic settings. Total time: 8 min.
14.Ask, “what does learning about plants have to do with our colonization of Mars?” Take responses and lead a discussion on the importance of plants as providers of oxygen, food, and prevention of soil erosion. Inform them that tomorrow they will continue working with plants. Total time: 5 min.
15.Inform the students that the remaining 5 minutes will be their own to explore the plants, continue working on their NASA research, or ask questions about anything that has been covered thus far. Also write on the board the journal assignment for the following day; “How do people grow plants in places that cannot support plants?”
Walk throughout the classroom observing and answering questions. Assess the accuracy of their work and following of directions, ability to think critically, independent work, and contribution to the group.
Answer the topic question and add three more words to their private word list and defining them in their own words.
Here’s the Scientific Method Datasheet .
E-Mail Alex !