Sunlight and Darkness Part 2

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SWBAT use their experimental designs to conduct an experiment on the effects of sunlight and darkness on growing plants

Big Idea

Students have a better understanding of an experiment when they create the steps and then have to follow just those steps to complete their experiment.

Teacher Background

This is the second part of a 2 part lesson. In the first part of the lesson students created an experimental design for the question, "can plants grow in sunshine and darkness?" They had to work in small groups to create the designs. They were not provided with a format for the experiment but had to think of what they needed on their own.

I reviewed the designs and gathered materials for the second day of the lesson. Students have included most of the steps necessary to carry out the experiment. Some groups have left off a step such as labeling the plants, or observing them. Also some groups did not think about needing to know how big their plant was to begin with. I mention these things as steps students may want to add in before beginning their actual experiment today.

Doing the Experiment

25 minutes
  1. I hand students back their experimental designs to begin the lesson today. I say, "you have all written your experimental designs to answer the question, "Can plants grow in darkness and in light?" On the table I have all of the materials you requested on your papers. Each group may come up when I call you and take only the materials listed on your papers. You will then follow the steps you have written on your paper. I have made room in the cupboard for those who said you needed a dark place to keep your plants. Can someone repeat the directions for me?" I let students repeat the directions and I check with a thumbs up to make sure everyone knows what is expected of him/her.

    I call each group up to the table to gather their materials. Students work in their groups to set up their experiments.

    The experiments all require the students to observe their plants over time so I set up a place for them to put their plants. Some groups may decide to build their own "dark space" and then set their plants up for the experiment. Setting up and recording the experiment

    Groups may realize that they are missing important steps or materials. I ask them to write down why they decided that they now need that material or step and then I allow them to add that material or step to their process.

    I allow time over the next 2 weeks for students to carry out observations of their plants.


15 minutes
  1. There will be 2 conclusion sessions for this lesson. The first is to take time to discuss the designs the day that the students carry out their steps. I ask. "Does anyone have a comment about their experimental design or about how they set up the experiment?" I let students share their experiences with the design and carrying out of the experiment.Explaining the Design

    After several weeks, when students have results from the growing of plants in sunlight and darkness I want them to think about what they have discovered. I bring the students to the rug. They may bring their science journals or graphs for the experiment if they created them. I ask students, "What did you find out about growing plants in light and darkness?"

    I want students to be able to discuss their findings scientifically. I am looking for how well students are able to communicate what they have learned. I encourage students to discuss different points of view about how well plants grow in sunlight and darkness and to base their responses on the data they collected. I will ask, "how do you know that?" to help students return to their findings to support their conclusions.