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In this project students are challenged to build a greenhouse and plant seeds using the Engineering Design Process. They will measure plant growth over time and assess the quality of their greenhouses according to the results. Through this process students will gain an understanding of how plants respond to stimuli (heat, light, gravity) and will understand that plants need energy from the sun to make their own food. By designing and testing their greenhouses students will understand that using different materials can result in different outcomes. Students will observe different plant growth patterns and record their results. By doing this, students will see the importance of accurate note taking and be able to participate in group discussions by providing their evidence organized in graphs and tables.
Learning Objectives: What will students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
gain an understanding of how plants respond to stimuli (heat, light, gravity)
demonstrate an understanding of plants and their roots and stems
understand that plants use energy from the sun to make their own food
plan, create, and test a greenhouse design
complete an accurate budget by adding and subtracting with 1,000
complete an accurate bar graph using their plants' growth data
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
understand the expectations for conducting an experiment
be familiar with the expectations for group work
have a basic understanding of plants and the parts of a plant
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
Why is it important to keep accurate records during an experiment and when designing models?
What causes roots to grow towards Earth's center?
When scientists and engineers are given a budget, why do you think it is important for them to not go over their budget?
Why do scientists and engineers use models?
Engage: What object, event, or questions will the teacher use to trigger the students' curiosity and engage them in the concepts?
Introduce the story to your students: Your school principal has just been informed that she has been given money to build a greenhouse for the school. She is asking each grade to build models of greenhouses that can protect the plants. Students must use only the materials provided to them, the model must sit on a flat surface, and protect the plants from the weather and other elements in the environment.
Provide the students with a time frame: You only have 60 minutes to plan and build your model greenhouse and plant your seeds.
Before students start planning and building their model greenhouses, it is essential that you introduce them to the following vocabulary:
Vocabulary can be taught by having the students tell the person to their left or right what they think the words mean. Share their answers and correct their answers, if necessary. You may also have them add these words and definitions to their Science journals (if they keep one).
Students will be given 30 minutes in the computer lab to research greenhouses and the type of seeds they will be given to plant (our students used Lima beans). Provide students with the Computer Lab Research Sheet to help guide them through the research process (see attached).
Engineers use the Engineering Design Process when solving a problem. You will also use this process as you create your design. The Engineering Design Process involves five main steps.
Explore: What will the students do to explore the concepts and skills being developed through the lesson?
During this portion of the lesson students will complete the Imagine, Plan, Create, Test and Improve phases. See the attached lesson plan for full instructions.
Explain: What will the students and teacher do so students have opportunities to clarify their ideas, reach a conclusion or generalization, and communicate what they know to others?
Did your team's design meet the goal? Why or why not?
Did your design improve? How do you know?
Are there any changes you would still like to make to your design?
Students will use their daily recording sheet to create a bar graph showing their plant growth (if any) during the 10 days.
What did you experience while growing the plant in your greenhouse?
Why was the sun important for your plant and greenhouse?
What stimuli (heat, light, gravity, etc.) did your plant respond to?
Did you supply your plant and greenhouse with enough sun, air, and water?
Elaborate: What will the students do to apply their conceptual understanding and skills to solve a problem, make a decision, perform a task, or make sense of new knowledge?
Students will write an extended response of the design challenge explaining if their greenhouse was successful and if their plant grew.
Students will be given a pre-test prior to beginning this lesson (see attached).
Students will write an extended response of the design challenge explaining if and how their greenhouse protected their plant and helped it grow. The student will also explain what factors had an effect on their greenhouse being successful or unsuccessful.
Students will draw a bar graph using the data from their collection sheets to show plant growth (if any).
Students will be given a post-test after completing the lesson (see attached).
Prior to the lesson, ask students the following questions:
Why is it important to keep accurate records during an investigation and when designing models? Possible answers include:
So other scientists can replicate the experiment or the design model.
You can keep track of the changes you are making to your experiment or design. This way you have documentation of what works and what does not work.
What causes roots grow towards Earth's center? Possible answers include:
When scientists and engineers are given a budget, why do you think it is important for them not to go over their given budget? Possible answers include:
Once scientists run out of money, they will not be able to buy more supplies. If the scientists and engineers run out of money before they purchased all of their supplies, they will not be able to complete their investigation or design.
Why do scientists and engineers use models? Possible answers include:
Models allow scientists and engineers to show what a design will look like when built full size.
Models allow scientists and engineers to represent ideas that cannot be explained directly.
Before students start their first trial, ask them the following questions:
What do you think will happen when you build your first design? Encourage students to reply using their vocabulary. Possible answers include:
My greenhouse will allow my plant to take in light, air, and water.
My greenhouse will protect my plants.
What does your plant need in order to survive? Possible answers include:
Air, light, water.
What changes did you make to your greenhouse for the second trial? Possible answers include:
Increased the amount of sunlight that reaches the plants.
Feedback to Students
During the Imagine part of the Engineering Design Process:
Ask them to define the problem
Look over brainstorming
Check hypothesis to see if it meets the criteria for a hypothesis
During the Planning part of the Engineering Design Process:
Check the Team Design Plan and illustrations and make appropriate suggestions.
Check their Budget Sheet before allowing them to purchase items.
During the Create part of the Engineering Design Process:
Encourage and question the students as they put their plans to the test.
Guide students as they reflect at the end of the testing period and support them as they reflect on what happened.
During the Improve part of the Engineering Design Process:
Offer feedback to students by starting over at the Imagine Part above.
Accommodations & Recommendations
Provide pictures of materials and instructions for ELL students.
Provide scribes for ESE students for recording data.
Provide additional time as needed for ESE students.
Provide structure for group work by assigning roles to each student in the group.
Post images and definitions of science vocabulary from the lesson as support for ELL students.
The students are grouped by the teacher. This allows for placing an ESE or ELL student with a stronger student or students to ensure that they receive the help that they may need. It is important to place them with not only a higher student, but one that you know will help them. It would not be beneficial to place them with a student or students who will not try to involve them, but instead take over.
Students could build a bigger greenhouse and plant different seeds.
Suggested Technology: Document Camera, Computers for Students, Internet Connection, Overhead Projector, Microsoft Office
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Amanda Laios, Sandra Mock
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Lake, Lake