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Here’s a section on the Real Greenhouse Effect


Science, Social Studies  


5, 6  

Title – The Real Greenhouse Effect
By – Alex Johnson-Jimenez
Subject – Science, Social Studies
Grade Level – 5th-6th Grade
NOTE: This is lesson 5 of the Colonization of Mars Thematic Unit.
This unit can also be found here .
Here’s the Build Your Own Greenhouse Worksheet .

Students will practice their skills of comparing, contrasting, and classification. Students will also identify the manner in which greenhouses work and why they are important to people and their possible use in the colonization of Mars.

Materials Needed:
A variety of plants or plant leaves (I suggest maple leaves, evergreen needles still on the branch, oak leaves, lamb’s ear, ivy, philodendron, grass blades, sunflower leaves, cactus, or whatever is most available) Seeds from various plants including flowers, vegetables, grass, and trees (pine cones are recommended as one of the tree seeds) Clear jars – peanut butter, jelly, and so on in which the student can slide their hand into with little difficulty. Potting soil, Pea seeds, Pictures of greenhouses
Video: Plant Adaptations from the Science For You Series by the Agency for Instructional Technology Greenhouse construction directions and log sheet

Estimated Time: 60 minutes

Several days in advance prepare your own your own greenhouse by following the directions below:
1.Obtain a large glass or clear container with a mouth that you can slide your hand into and comes with lid. Canning jars work well.

2.Place about two inches of potting soil at the bottom of the container.

3.Place one or two pea seeds about halfway into the soil.

4.Using a scratch awl, screw driver, or knife, puncture several small holes into the lid or cover the mouth with plastic wrap that is held in place with a rubber band. The wrap should also have small holes in it.

5.Water the seed regularly until it sprouts and then water very little there after.

6.Make sure the plant gets sufficient sunlight.

7.You should see precipitation on the sides of the container as the water evaporates but does not leave the jar and is so reused by the plant. This is a greenhouse.

At the beginning of the class write on the board, “Where am I? I sit in my place and look at all the different types of individuals that live near me. It is easy to tell when it is day and night, but the temperature hardly ever changes. I can look out and see the trees loose their leaves, grass turn yellow, and plants die, but I flourish despite the horrible weather. Sometimes it’s so hot in here that there appears to be a mist in the air.”
Give students approximately 5 minutes to answer this riddle. Total time: 5 min.


1.After the timer goes off, have students voice their answers. Someone will guess greenhouse, if not, give them clues. Once greenhouse has been stated, ask them to explain what a greenhouse is.

2.After some discussion on what a greenhouse is have students answer the question of what plants need in order to survive-review from the previous lesson. Total time: 5 min.

3.Thereafter, view the video. Approximately 14 min.

4.Ask students to describe how and why plants might have to adapt to their environment. Total time: 5 min.

5.Hand out the collection of leaves to each group and the classification sheets.

6.Have students play with the leaves for a few minutes and construct a list of as many different ways that they might be able to classify the leaves. Such answers might be size, color, texture, and so on. Students should practice classifying by some of their offered categories. Total time: 6 min.

7.Ask students to consider which plants would survive in an area that had little water and poor soil. The responses will probably favor the cactus.

8.After discussing that although cacti may grow in remote and hostile environments, people would need other plants in order to survive. “So what is one possibility for growing plants in hostile environments?” Someone will think or the greenhouse. At this time present your greenhouse to the class. Pass it around so that all can see and feel it. Once everyone has had a chance to hold the greenhouse, ask the students to report their observations. Total time: 6 min.

9.Inform the students that they will be creating their own greenhouses from the containers they brought.

10.Hand out the directions for creating the greenhouses. Read the directions aloud as they read silently. Check for understanding. Note: You need to either puncture the holes to their lids yourself or use the shrink wrap paper and rubber bands. Puncturing holes is more effective and durable since they have to remove the barrier to water the plants.

11.Have the students from each group collect all the necessary supplies and give students approximately 10 minutes to complete the task. Total time: 15 min.

12.Inform the students that once they are finished with their greenhouses that they may use the rest of the time to ask questions or continue working on their NASA projects. Also inform them of their journal topic, “How might greenhouses have helped the Pilgrims and how might they help us colonize Mars?”

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 Build Your Own Greenhouse Worksheet .

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