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A Challenge from GROW

Unit Plan: Cycles: From Rot to RadishesLesson: 1 Time: 1 hour Setting: Classroom
3-5, 6-8Schoolyard Ecology
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Students observe soil samples, talk about where soil nutrients come from, receive a letter from a company that wants to know if dead plants can be used as fertilizer, then develop research questions.


Students will be able to: Understand that nutrients are the invisible building blocks that make up all living things, know that all living things need nutrients to grow and stay healthy, have ideas about where nutrients in soil come from, form a research question.


For the class:

  • house plant

For each group of 3-4 students:

  • small clear bag or container of poor soil, such as sand or clay
  • small clear bag or container of good potting or garden soil

For each student:

  • copy of the letter from GROW


See Lesson Resources below for further details.

Lesson Files

A Challenge from GROW

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

1B Scientific Inquiry, 5D Interdependence of Life, 5E Flow of Matter and Energy

NYS Standards

MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science
Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems, Planning and carrying out investigations

Cross Cutting Concepts

Cause and effect

Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS2A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
New York State Science Learning Standards

Performance Expectations

MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms in a variety of ecosystems., MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

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.