Students learn a simple technique for quantifying the amount of photosynthesis that occurs in a given period of time, using a common water plant (Elodea). They can use this technique to compare the amounts of photosynthesis that occur under conditions of low and high light levels. Before they begin the experiment, however, students must come up with a well-worded hypothesis to be tested. After running the experiment, students pool their data to get a large sample size, determine the measures of central tendency of the class data, and then graph and interpret the results.
Students are introduced to the concept of energy cycles by learning about the carbon cycle. They will learn how carbon atoms travel through the geological (ancient) carbon cycle and the biological/physical carbon cycle. Students will consider how human activities have disturbed the carbon cycle by emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They will discuss how engineers and scientists are working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Lastly, students will consider how they can help the world through simple energy conservation measures.
Through a teacher-led discussion, students realize that the food energy plants obtain comes from sunlight via the plant process of photosynthesis. They learn what photosynthesis is, at an age-appropriate level of detail and vocabulary, and then begin to question how we know that photosynthesis occurs, if we can't see it happening. Elodea is a common water plant that students can use to directly observe evidence of photosynthesis. When Elodea is placed in a glass beaker near a good light source, bubbles of oxygen will be released as products of photosynthesis. By counting the number of bubbles that rise to the surface in a five-minute period, students can compare the photosynthetic activity of Elodea in the presence of high and low light levels.
Students learn how rooftop gardens help the environment and the lives of people, especially in urban areas. They gain an understanding of how plants reduce the urban heat island effect, improve air quality, provide agriculture space, reduce energy consumption and increase the aesthetic quality of cities. This draws upon the science of heat transfer (conduction, convection, radiation, materials, color) and ecology (plants, shade, carbon dioxide, photosynthesis), and the engineering requirements for rooftop gardens. In the associated activity, students apply their scientific knowledge to model and measure the effects of green roofs.
The purpose of this resource is to observe plant green-down and report greendown data to help validate estimates of the end of the plant growing season. Students monitor the change in color of selected leaves of trees, shrubs or grasses.
The purpose of this resource is to observe plant green-up and report data that will be used by scientists to validate satellite estimates of the beginning of the plant growing season. Students monitor budburst and growth of leaves of selected trees, shrubs, or grasses. Species chosen should be native, deciduous, and dominant in your area.
Students are presented with a guide to rain garden construction in an activity that culminates the unit and pulls together what they have learned and prepared in materials during the three previous associated activities. They learn about the four vertical zones that make up a typical rain garden with the purpose to cultivate natural infiltration of stormwater. Student groups create personal rain gardens planted with native species that can be installed on the school campus, within the surrounding community, or at students' homes to provide a green infrastructure and low-impact development technology solution for areas with poor drainage that often flood during storm events.
Students design and conduct simple experiments using elodea (aquatic plant sold in pet stores) and Bromthymol blue to determine whether plants consume or release carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis. Students will record their data which will be used to conclude whether carbon dioxide was consumed or released by the elodea. Through class discussion of student data, students will learn that carbon dioxide was consumed during photosynthesis.
Through multi-trial experiments, students are able to see and measure something that is otherwise invisible to them seeing plants breathe. Student groups are given two small plants of native species and materials to enclose them after watering with colored water. After being enclosed for 5, 10 and 15 minutes, teams collect and measure the condensed water from the plants' "breathing," and then calculate the rates at which the plants breathe. A plant's breath is known as transpiration, which is the flow of water from the ground where it is taken up by roots (plant uptake) and then lost through the leaves. Students plot volume/time data for three different native plant species, determine and compare their transpiration rates to see which had the highest reaction rate and consider how a plant's unique characteristics (leaf surface area, transpiration rate) might figure into engineers' designs for neighborhood stormwater management plans.
This NetLogo model of leaf photosynthesis shows the macroscopic outcome of the reaction.
Through an overview of the components of the hydrologic cycle and the important roles they play in the design of engineered systems, students' awareness of the world's limited fresh water resources is heightened. The hydrologic cycle affects everyone and is the single most critical component to life on Earth. Students examine in detail the water cycle components and phase transitions, and then learn how water moves through the human-made urban environment. This urban "stormwater" water cycle is influenced by the pervasive existence of impervious surfaces that limit the amount of infiltration, resulting in high levels of stormwater runoff, limited groundwater replenishment and reduced groundwater flow. Students show their understanding of the process by writing a description of the path of a water droplet through the urban water cycle, from the droplet's point of view. The lesson lays the groundwork for rest of the unit, so students can begin to think about what they might do to modify the urban "stormwater" water cycle so that it functions more like the natural water cycle. A PowerPoint® presentation and handout are provided.
This lesson covers the process of photosynthesis and the related plant cell functions of transpiration and cellular respiration. Students will learn how engineers can use the natural process of photosynthesis as an exemplary model of a complex yet efficient process for converting solar energy to chemical energy or distributing water throughout a system.
The purpose of the resource is to develop hypotheses about which environmental factors are most important to plants.