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Unit Plan: Cycles: From Rot to RadishesLesson: 3 Time: Session 1 (40 min) and Session 2 (40 min) Setting: Classroom
3-5, 6-8Schoolyard Ecology
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Students set up experiments to test the effects of compost tea on plant growth, learn about plant development, then monitor their experiments for 3-5 weeks.


Students will be able to: set up an experiment according to plans, know the parts of a seed and how seeds develop into a mature plant; understand where plants get nutrients and energy as they grow; accurately make and keep records of observations and measurements; exchange and reflect on information with their peers.


Session 1

For the class:

  • newsprint poster of experiment design plan (see lesson "Plans and  Peer Reviews, lesson 2")
  • large bucket or dishpan
  • several measuring cups or 8 oz. plastic cups
  • cleanup supplies: broom, whisk broom, dustpan, paper towels, sponges, bucket of water

For each group:

  • set of experiment materials:

24 6-oz plastic cups
approximately 9 cups of vermiculite
plastic bag, 1-gallon size
24 radish seeds
mini paper cups
12 pot lables
permanent marker

Session 2

For the class:

  • compost tea materials:

See Lesson Resources for further details.

Lesson Files

Up and Running

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

1B Scientific Inquiry, 5A Diversity of Life, 5D Interdependence of Life, 5E Flow of Matter and Energy, 8A Agriculture, 12D Communication Skills

NYS Standards

MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science, ELA 1- Language to collect and interpret information and understand generalizations
Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices

Planning and carrying out investigations, Analyzing and interpreting data, Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Cross Cutting Concepts

Patterns, Cause and effect

Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS1C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms, LS2B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
New York State Science Learning Standards

Performance Expectations

MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem., MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and protecting ecosystem stability.*

Hogan, Kathleen. Eco-Inquiry: A Guide to Ecological Learning Experiences for the Upper Elementary/Middle Grades. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, PO Box 1840, 4050 Westmark Drive, Dubuque, IA 52004-1840., 1994.