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Exploring Plant and Soil Connection

Unit Plan: Cycles: From Rot to RadishesLesson: 4 Time: Session 1 (1 hr) and Session 2 (1 hr) Setting: Classroom
3-5, 6-8Schoolyard Ecology
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Students prepare for and do an outdoor investigation of soil in areas where plants and other landscape feature differ, then use their findings to think about plant and soil connections.


    Students will be able to: envision roots growing in the soil and taking in nutrients, are aware of some ways that ecologists study plant communities and help people manage land, can use visible differences in sites to predict differences in soil, know how to look for patterns in their data in order to make generalizations, can explain how soil could affect plant communities, and how living and dead plants can affect soil, are familiar with a variety of factors that together determine what plants grow where.


    Session 1

    For the class:

    • Display or photocopy page titled "Shrub Invaders".

    • Display or photocopy page titled "Root Races".

    For each students:

    • copy of "Plant and Soil Connections Data Sheet"

    Session 2

    For each group of 3-4 students:

    • tray (e.g., cookie sheet, foil pan, dishpan) lined with white paper
    • trowel or large metal spoon
    • piece of rigid plastic 2" pipe, about 50 cm long (optional)
    • several hand lenses
    • rulers

    See Lesson Resources for further details.

    Lesson Files

    Exploring Plant and Soil Connections

    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, Engaging in argument from evidence

    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-LS2-4. 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.