Materials List: chart paper, marker, cardboard egg cartons, seedlings, seeds, plastic cups, safety goggles, hand trowels, potting soil, index cards, transparent tape, How Does Your Garden Grow? BLM, Science Learning Log BLM, Science Learning Log Rubric BLM (Unit 3, Activity 2)
Teacher Note: A few days prior to this activity, the teacher should plant seeds in order to have at least two dozen seedlings (tiny sprouts) to use in the experiment. Cardboard egg cartons (non-foam) would work well so that students can transplant the seedlings to their cups. Radish seeds would be good for this activity. Ask students to make a list of what all plants need and record responses on chart paper.
Explain to students that they will investigate the importance of two things seeds need to grow—water and sunlight—and conduct two experiments. In groups of four, students should plant a seedling in each of four cups. Each student should label the cup by writing the conditions for the plant on an index card and taping it to the cup. The information for labeling can be written on the board or on chart paper for students to copy:
LIGHT – cup 1 – with sunlight and with water
LIGHT – cup 2 – without sunlight and with water
WATER – cup 1 – with water and with sunlight
WATER – cup 2 – without water and with sunlight
The cups should be placed in appropriate locations in the classroom (table accessible for students to water seedlings, table for plants not to be watered, and table with access to sunlight, closet, or cabinet).
Teacher note: It is imperative that the cup without sunlight receives water and the cup without water is in the light so that the focus in only on one variable. Cup 1 is the control in both experiments.
The students should record their observations on the How Does Your Garden Grow? BLM. Each student should have a blackline master on which to record observations for his/her group’s cups. The experiments may last past the duration of the unit, depending on plants and conditions. Students should conclude with a discussion about the growing conditions of the seedlings. They should be able to verbalize that plants need sunlight and water to grow. They should be able to state what was removed from each plant that caused it not to grow.
Using a modified science learning log (view literacy strategy descriptions) to record information about the needs of growing plants, the students will write and draw to demonstrate what was done and what was learned. The goal of the learning log is to allow students to record their observations and ideas, to write descriptions in detail, to build and complete charts, and to draw clear, understandable diagrams and illustrations.
Following the experience of planting, observing, and discussing seeds, have the students use the Science Learning Log BLM to record the following key pieces of information:
What did I do?, symbolized by a question mark on the page; What did I learn?, symbolized by a light bulb; an illustration or diagram to share with others, symbolized by a camera. The students can label the drawing or sentences can be written below the picture to verbalize the illustration.
Allow time for students to share their science learning log entries with partners. Send the completed page as a homework assignment in which the students read their responses with family members to spark discussion about science concepts.