Plant study is among the easiest and most cost effective units which may be employed by Integrated/Life/Earth Science educators. From a simple study of plants and interactions with their environment, students can examine how plants respond to pollutants which also affect us. From this simple study, students may discover and explore complex subjects, from local and global perspectives. Given information presented in this unit, Science, Math and Social Studies students can observe impacts of pollution on different plant types, describe how they contribute to local pollution, debate local land use issues, and describe how local actions effect and are effected by global changes.
This unit is written for Grade 7/8 integrated science curriculum. It is inquiry-based. Lessons and activities accommodate the City of New Haven_s performance standards, many of which are National Science Association standards. The unit includes laboratory investigations which prepare students for the CAPT Science Performance Task. The lab experiments are presented in CAPT format, requiring critical thinking, data analysis and reporting, and assessment and application.
Abiotic Factors & Plants examines environmental impacts on life--specifically plants. Students will complete individual experiments in which they manipulate factors for plant growth: space, soil, water, light, air and temperature. After discovering conditions which maximize growth, students may transplant their flowers, vegetables and herbs to a school/community garden. While outside, students will also observe factors which affect their plants which are not optimal, but are beyond their control. It is these outside, variable factors which will set the stage for an introduction on global interdependencies. For example, students will know carbon monoxide from nearby cars is not ideal air. However, local air currents and winds, like global winds, make their garden susceptible to damaging toxins.
Students will conclude diverse plant life is critical to their comfort, health and survival. They will identify their own use of plants, those grown locally and globally. Students will conclude plant health is critical to their giant ecosystem--planet Earth, and any pollutants that erode plant life harm the whole ecosystem.
Abiotic Factors & Plants includes a Life Science component in which students study plant anatomy and processes necessary for survival. It includes an Earth Science component as students analyze different soils, water and global interdependencies given hydraulic and nitrogen cycles, and global winds.
We, and students, contribute to local pollution which affects the environment. However, cycles in nature, combined with global winds, makes us and our local environments suffer from global pollution elsewhere. For example, the Chernobyl incident contributed to radiation which damages plant life around the world; our Connecticut power plants and extensive use of cars contributes to acid rain which damages forests in other parts of the world as well. Students will debate a current issue which examines potential damages associated with local development. Students will examine benefits and environmental costs associated with one of the development proposals facing New Haven: Long Wharf Mall development, expansion of Interstate-95, or installation of a high-speed rail service to New York City.
Key concepts introduced and explored are: plant structure, function and use of abiotic factors; environment and ecology, including interdependencies on and within a system; contamination of air, land and water and its affect on various plants; costs and benefits of student demand and current development issues which contribute to pollution.