Project Based Learning - Science Unit on Plants
Jennifer Grill
1st grade
St. Margaret Mary School

Goals/Objectives: The goal of this Unit is for students to understand what is a plant, parts of a plant, what plants need to grow and uses of plants in everyday life. This unit takes about a month to complete as it is very in depth with many projects and activities.

Materials: Plant unit booklet, Scholastic News Plants Magazine, seeds, planting materials, bread, celery, house plant, food coloring, zip Loc bags, paper towels, seed pots and potting soil.

Procedure: Students are first introduced to the unit by asking what is a plant? Discussion takes place and students are shown a short Scholastic video on plants. After we learn that plants are living things, we discuss types of plants from moss to cactus and everything in between. We discuss the parts of a plant and students are able to understand parts of a plant and even be able to identify the different parts of the plant the we eat. Celery (stem), lettuce (leaf), carrot (root). After identifying all the four parts of a plant, we discuss the job of each part. Discussion will take place about how all plants need certain things like sunlight, water, soil and space to grow. Once that is established we begin our experiments in small groups.

The class is divided into four groups. Each group will be given a different plant part to run their experiment. Each group will be given an experiment worksheet and must hypothesize on what they believe the outcome of their experiment will be, and will have to chart the success over a one to two week period.

Group One: Roots: After soaking and opening up a bean seed, students will see the seed coat, embryo and food inside the seed to nourish the plant. They will plant their bean seeds in a clear plastic cup in a paper towel and chart what happens to their seed daily. Do the roots grow up or down? How does the stem grow? Do you see leaves? How many days does it take to achieve each stage of growth?

Group Two: Stems. Students will hypothesize what will happen to a stem that they will soak in a jar of clear water and one in a jar of colored water? They will chart and see if ther predictions are true. Students will be able to see how a stem is like a straw moving food and water to all parts of a plant.

Group Three: Leaves. After hypothesizing what will happen if a leave is covered in tinfoil for a two week period, students will wrap a broad leaf on a plant in the room for two weeks without sunlight. Students will continue to water the plant regularly and maintain sunlight to the rest of the plant. They will chart when and how much they water the plant and observe the leaf after a two week period.

Group Four: Other. This group will be taking a look at how plants that don't have traditional parts grow such as mold. They will be given a piece of bread and a Zip Loc bag. Students will hypothesis what will happen if the bread is moistened and put in the bag in a dark place for a period of time. They will conduct the experiment and chart their observations daily.

Students will be given class time each lesson day to observe and record their findings. At the end of each experiment, the students will present to the class their findings as a group. They will tell their original hypothesis and whether or not they proved their hypotheses to be true or false. They will show their experiment and show their recorded information in their group presentation.

Assessment/ Evaluation: Although there are some written evaluations that go along with the whole completed unit, the assessment for this area of project based learning will be based on each groups experiment and how well they can tell what was happening in each individual experiment. Class participation will be considered along with questions asked to other groups presenting.

Reflection: I have taught this unit for many years always adding or tweaking things that may or may not go over well, and sometime adjusting depending on the level of each individual class. I have integrated more technology into this unit now that I have a Star Board in my classroom which really engages the students in the lessons. The students love the experiments and being able to work in groups. They feel as thought they have a real part in the lesson when they get to fill out the hypotheses sheet and chart how their experiment is doing and seeing if what they hypothesized was true. I do try to pair up students who not only work well together but different aademic levels in order for everyone to find success. This is an engaging unit that the students have a lot of fun completing.