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:
Adaptations for AIGs:
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.
- Mung beans
- potting soil
- DI Water
- Nitrogen rich fertilizer
- flats for growing seedlings
- graduated cylinders
- 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.