Mung and Nitrogen (AIG IRP)

Mung and Nitrogen (AIG IRP)

Lesson Overview

Brief Description of Lesson/Task/Activity: Cycles in nature are important. Plants especially rely on the recycling and cycling of nutrients. One of the main nutrients plants require and help cycle through the ecosystem is nitrogen. Human activities such as fertilizing lawns and crops change the amount of nitrogen in the ecosystem. In this activity, students will determine the effect varying concentrations of nitrogen have on plant growth by designing and completing a controlled experiment testing the effects of fertilizers on plant growth and the effect of fertilizer runoff on algae growth. Students will develop a hypothesis on the effects of different concentrations of fertilizer on plants and the effects of fertilizer runoff on algal growth. The students will develop and write out a controlled experiment to test their hypothesis. They should include controls, constants, dependent variable(s) and independent variable(s) in their procedure.

This activity can be started before they are introduced to ecology so data can be a part of the unit or could be done while studying cycle. The activity could be done by the entire class or as an out of class project for the purpose of differentiation.

Time Frame: 2 weeks

Type of Differentiation for AIGs:

  • Enrichment
  • Extension

Adaptations for AIGs:

  • Content
  • Process

Explanation of How Resource is Appropriate for AIGs: This activity is modified for gifted learners in several ways. First the activity will require students to go beyond the NC Essential standard addressed by the activity by requiring them to determine solution concentrations, gather a variety of data over a period of time and analyze data to form a conclusion on the effects of fertilizer. The students must be able to focus on process and science skills as well as encourage active learning. Students must be able to research and develop their own hypothesis. Students will then construct their own procedure to test their hypothesis-in an inquiry style format. The students will gather data and based on their analysis of the data and their prior knowledge, develop a conclusion. Students will be required to relate their findings to everyday farming practices to determine if the use of fertilizers is effective and/or useful when considering the negative impacts run-off may have. 

Needed Resources/Materials:

  • Mung beans
  • potting soil
  • DI Water
  • Nitrogen rich fertilizer
  • flats for growing seedlings
  • graduated cylinders
  • balance
  • metric ruler
  • aquarium ( or buckets) with algae

Teacher Notes: Mung beans are inexpensive and easy to sprout; this activity can be done within the classroom or at home. Ditch water with a small amount of algae already in it would work great for this activity.

Stage 1: Engage

You and your family decide to become “more green” and grow your own food. Before you start your garden you want to know more about nitrogen-based fertilizers and the impact they have on plants and the environment.  You decide to experiment to see how nitrogen based fertilizers affect the growth of plants and algae growth in ponds due to runoff of fertilizers. You also want to let others in your area know what your results are in order to educate them on the pros/cons of using fertilizers since we are all part of one world and synergistic reactions can amplify environmental problems.

Stage 2: Elaborate

Design an experiment to test varying concentrations of nitrogen based fertilizers on plant growth and how the runoff from these fertilizers affects the growth of algae. Include-hypothesis, dependent and independent variables, controls, and how you will measure the effects of the nitrogen based fertilizer. Design an additional experiment to track the effect of the run-off on algae growth by researching and then testing the quality of the water in the “pond” as algal growth occurs. Students will analyze their data and compare it to research data to determine if the experiment they designed allowed them to generate useful data. If their results are questionable, they may need to redesign the experiment and gather new data.  Students will use the results of their experiment to create a brochure explaining the pros and or cons of using Nitrogen based fertilizers based on your data. Students need to research the impacts of nitrogen on the ecosystem and then use their own data to determine if the pros outweigh the cons. The students need to be able to communicate their findings to others in a report or presentation to the class.

Stage 3: Evaluate

Develop a 1 to 4 point rubric to rate students on: testable hypothesis based on research, variables, constants, controls, experimental design, collection, display of and analyzing of data.  The students write up should include a workable hypothesis, research on how much fertilizer to use, independent and dependent variable, constants and controls, procedure for testing plant growth as a result of fertilizer use, calculations showing how they determined the different concentrations of fertilizer to use, a method to gather and analyze data for both plant growth, algae growth and water quality and a conclusion relating the amount of fertilizer and growth as well as the relationship between the concentration of fertilizer and its effect on algal growth and water quality (as a result of runoff).