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Testing Conditions that Promote Decomposition

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Unit Plan: Decomposer Dynamics Lesson: 5 Time: Session 1 (40 min), Session 2 (40 min), Session 3-5 (40 min), Session 6 (1 hr) Setting: Classroom Objectives:

Students test factors that promote the growth of microbes, then use their findings to make compost.

Overview
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Lesson Overview:

Students will be able to: Understand that invisible spores of microbes are in the air, water, and on all non-sterile surfaces, discover that certain physical conditions, such as moisture and warmth, help microbes grow, explain the connection between the growth of microbes on dead plants and decomposition, refine their experimenting skills

Materials:

Sessions1-6

For the Class:

  • 2.5 gallon (30x15x17 cm) plastic animal cage with cover (or a similar clear plastic container to use as a decomposition chamber)
  • clear plastic bag large enough to line the decomposition chamber
  •  6 cups of alfalfa hay
  • 6 cups of hardwood shavings
  • materials to vary conditions for growing microbes

 Session 1

For each pair of students

  • copy of "Research Proposal"

Session 2

For the class

  • miscellaneous containers

For each pair of students

  • 4 sandwich-size ziplock bags
  • masking tape or permanent marker

Session 3-5

For the class

  • measurement and observation tools

For each pair of students

  • 2 hand lenses
  • copy of "Science Fair Story #3"
  • copy of "Science Fair Story #4"
  • copy of Science Fair Story #5

See Lesson Resources for further details.

Lesson Resources:
Benchmarks for Science Literacy: 5D Interdependence of Life 5E Flow of Matter and Energy 12C Manipulation and Observation NYS Standards: MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science MST 7- Problem solving using mathematics, science, and technology (working effectively, process and analyze information, presenting results)
Next Generation Science Standards
Science and Engineering Practices: Asking questions and defining problems Planning and carrying out investigations Analyzing and interpreting data

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.