Plant-based activities, gardening, and environmental studies provide great opportunities for implementing National and State Science Education Standards. Such opportunities go far beyond the basic study of plants themselves to include life cycles, ecosystems, soil, weather, organisms, and many science process skills such as measuring, charting, collecting data, and reporting.


Choose a grade: K : 1 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 : 8


Kindergarten

Life Science
Content Standard 2: Observe, investigate, describe and classify living things; explain life cycles, diversity, adaptations, structure and function of cells and systems reproduction, heredity, interdependence, behavior, flow of energy and matter and changes over time.

Performance Standards
The student:
  • uses senses to observe characteristics of organisms using hand lenses when appropriate (earthworms, insects, flowers, vegetables, seeds, etc.). Describes similarities and differences between organisms (verbal descriptions, drawings, dictated findings).
  • sorts and classifies seeds, contributes to a picture graph.
  • describes similarities and differences between organisms; (verbal descriptions, drawings, dictated findings).
  • observes various classroom plants and classroom animals, contributes daily to needs, describes basic needs and how to keep them healthy.
  • observes and describes organisms in their environments; (habitats on school grounds, trees, under rocks, puddles, aquaria, etc.).
  • observes organisms in their environments; (distinguishes living and non-living things; describes different organisms and what they eat, etc.).
  • draws and decides on a rule to sort organisms observed. Sorts and tallies pictures of organisms observed.

Essential Knowledge and Skills
The student:
  • uses senses to find out about surroundings and her/himself. Explains how different senses give different information.
  • chooses magnifiers to help see things that could not be seen without them.
  • cares for organisms to know that most living things need water, food, and air.

Technology Integration
  • uses tools such as magnifiers, thermometers and microscopes to examine organisms.

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Grade 1

Life Science

Content Standard 2: Observe, investigate, describe and classify living things; explain life cycles, diversity, adaptations, structure and function of cells and systems, reproduction, heredity, interdependence, behavior, flow of energy and matter and changes over time.

Performance Standards
The student:
  • observes and describes differences and a variety of different types of similarities in basic characteristics and behavior of organisms.
  • investigates and describes the relationship between structure and function within organisms (e.g., wings and flight; roots, stems, seeds, leaves of plants and their roles in meeting basic needs).
  • grows a colony of earthworms in the classroom or in the school garden!
  • examines, with the use of hand lens when necessary, the different individuals in the populations and writes or uses pictures to show the similarities and differences between them.
  • grows a plant from a bulb and describes similarities and differences between this plant and those of the other students. Writes or uses pictures to compare the plant to any other plant in their neighborhood.
  • compares and describes the behavior of living things in relation to the nature of their environments (e.g., plants and animals in a terrarium and in an aquarium).
  • observes and cares for classroom animals and plants and explains the similarities and differences in their requirements.
  • distinguishes real from fanciful attributes given to plants and animals in stories, movies, poems, CD-ROMs, etc.

Essential Knowledge and Skills
The student:
  • chooses magnifiers to help see things they could not see without them.
  • cares for organisms and concludes that plants and animals both need to take in water, and animals need to take in food. In addition, plants need light.
  • investigates organisms to know that different plants and animals have external features that help them thrive in different kinds of places.
  • explains differences in stories that sometimes give plants and animals attributes they really do not have.

Technology Integration
The student:
  • uses tools such as computers, clocks, hand lenses, thermometers, and balances to collect information.
  • uses word processing programs to write about organisms.

Earth and Space Sciences
Content Standard 4: Observe, investigate, describe and explain the properties, structure, and origin of the earth system, the solar system and the universe. Observe, investigate, describe and explain changes in the earth and sky with time, energy in the earth system and geochemical cycles.

Performance Standards
The student
  • observes, describes, and compares physical properties of soil, water retention, layer formation, and decomposition of materials. Observes erosion on school ground or in the neighborhood.
  • compares three different types of soil to describe observable properties (particle size, drainage, fertility) and investigates effect of each on plant growth.
  • collects, organizes, and analyzes patterns in data to infer the effect of different types of soil on plant growth.
  • constructs histograms, stem-and-leaf plots and box plots of the seeds growth planted in different soils.
  • constructs and explains time series plots of root growth in different soils.
  • investigates how water moves through different earth materials.

Essential Knowledge and Skills
The student:
  • conducts investigations to know that soil is made partly from weathered rock (mineral), partly from plant remains (organic matter) and also contains many organisms (microbes).

Technology Integration
The student:
  • uses tools such as computers, clocks, hand lenses, thermometers and balances to collect information about the weather.

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Grade 3

Life Science
Content Standard 2: Observe investigate, describe and classify living things; explain life cycles, diversity, adaptations, structure and function of cells and systems, reproduction, heredity, interdependence, behavior, flow of energy and matter and changes over time.

Performance Standards
The student:
  • creates an artificial habitat using plants and animals together. Identifies food sources for different organisms based on observation of the habitat and creates food webs based on observations (fish, crabs, fruit flies, plants). Explains the role of each organism in the food chain.
  • observes and records effects of changes on the created habitat (e.g., changes in light, temperature, water, population).
  • grows, observes, and completes the life cycle of a plant including pollination and collection of seeds for the next generation. Measures and makes drawings of observations of the growth of a plant.
  • collects and describes evidence to explain effects of temperature, light, and water on the life cycle, dispersal methods, traits, and variation in plants.
  • investigates and describes the parts of plants; explains and predicts the functions of different parts of a plant.

Essential Knowledge and Skills
The student:
  • collects evidence from selected habitats to know that changes in an organism’s habitat are sometimes beneficial to it and sometimes harmful.
  • infers that for any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well and some cannot survive at all.
  • concludes that insects and various other organisms depend on dead plant and animal material for food.
  • reasons that almost all kinds of food can be traced back to plants and people food.
  • produces evidence to explain that some source of “energy” is needed for all organisms to stay alive and grow.
  • investigates organisms to know that they interact with one another in various ways besides providing food. Concludes that many plants depend on animals for carrying their pollen to their plants or dispersing their seeds.

Technology Integration
The student:
  • uses tools including hand lenses, clocks, thermometers, balances, computers, rulers, meter sticks, measuring cups, calculators, microscopes, cameras, safety goggles and sound recorders to collect and analyze information.
  • uses educational software, drawing and writing tools to gather information about the life cycles of several plants in different environments and produces a report showing the role of animals in pollination and/or seed dispersal of three plants.

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Grade 4

Life Science
Content Standard 2: Observe, investigate, describe and classify living things; explain life cycles, diversity, adaptations, structure and function of cells and systems, reproduction, heredity, interdependence, behavior, flow of energy and matter, and changes over time.

Performance Standards
The student:
  • observes and groups organisms or specimens to identify similarities and differences among them (live specimens as well as videos, and pictorial representation of animals, plants, fungi, singe-celled organisms, bacteria).
  • constructs a large or small-scale compost pile in the fall and records changes in decaying material over time. Explains reasons that these changes are taking place (compost pile can be indoors or outdoors and product can be used for spring planting).
  • uses and explains data collected for a back-to-back histogram, parallel box plot or time series plot to compare pollution on plant growth.
  • uses stereomicroscope to examine the organism in ‘compost tea’ at monthly intervals. Draws representative organisms and explains why there are changes in the types of organisms present at different times.

Essential Knowledge and Skills
The student:
  • observes that organisms interact with one another in various ways besides providing food. Investigates ways that many plants depend on animals for carrying their pollen to their plants or dispersing their seeds.
  • conducts a long-term investigation to know in any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
  • deduces that over the whole earth, organisms are growing, dying and decaying, and new organisms are being produced by the old ones.
  • observes and describes how organisms interact with one another in various ways besides providing food. Observes that many plants depend on animals for carrying their pollen to their plants or dispersing their seeds.

Technology Integration
The student:
  • uses measuring tools to collect accurate data for comparing objects and events for designing and constructing things.
  • uses communication and word processing software to construct journal entries and scientific reports of related narratives.

Earth and Space Sciences
Content Standard 4: Observe, investigate, describe and explain the properties, structure, and origin of the earth system, the solar system and the universe. Observe, investigate, describe and explain changes in the earth and sky with time, energy in the earth system and geochemical changes.

Performance Standards
The student:
  • constructs weather instruments and a weather station. Gathers data and compares weather and its affects on areas in different parts of the country.

Technology Integration
The student:
  • uses measuring tools to collect accurate data for comparing objects and events for designing and constructing things.

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Grade 5

Life Science
Content Standard 2: Observe, investigate, describe and classify living things; explain life cycles, diversity, adaptation, structure and function of cells and systems reproduction, heredity, interdependence, behavior, flow of energy and matter and changes over time.

Performance Standards
The student:
  • compares fossil plants and animals in the classroom, field, or museum. Prepares comparative charts, tables, descriptions, etc., to show similarities and differences with existing organisms.

Essential Knowledge and Skills
The student:
  • examines environments to know for any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
  • gives examples of how some source of energy is needed for all organisms to stay alive and grow.
  • examines various fossils to know they can be compared to one another and to living organisms according to their similarities and differences. Some organisms that lived long ago are similar to existing organisms, but some are quite different.

Technology Integration
The student:
  • uses a variety of tools to collect and analyze data such as the computer, calculators, microscopes, cameras, hand lenses, thermometers, compasses, balances, hot plates, meter sticks, sound recordings, and safety apparatus.
  • uses multiple sources of information such as the internet, print, instructional TV and databases.

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Grade 6

Earth and Space Sciences
Content Standard 4: Observe investigate, describe and explain the properties, structure, and origin of the earth system, the solar system and the universe. Observe, investigate, describe and explain changes in the earth and sky with time, energy in the earth system and geochemical cycles.

Performance Standards
The student:
  • observes, records, and describes patterns of changing weather and how they are measured.
  • designs and carries out a study to compare the composition of soils sampled form three different locations in the Washington, DC area.

Essential Knowledge and Skills
The student:
  • performs experiments to know although weathered rock is the basic component of soil, the composition and texture of soil and its fertility and resistance to erosion are greatly influenced by plant roots and debris, bacteria, fungi, worms, insects, rodents, and other organisms.

Technology Integration
The student:
  • operates a weather station and makes daily measurements of temperature, pressure, humidity, wind direction, and rainfall. Maintains graphs of these data and compare with daily weather maps as well as radar maps of cloud cover. Identifies the types of clouds (cumulus, cirrus, stratus, and numbus). Makes weather predictions.
  • uses communication and word processing software to construct journal entries and scientific reports or related narratives.

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Grade 7

Life Science
Content Standard 2: Observe, investigate, describe and classify living things; explain life cycles, diversity, adaptations, structure and function of cells and systems reproduction heredity, interdependence, behavior, flow of energy and matter and changes over time.

Performance Standards
The student:
  • designs and conducts at least one experiment to show the influence of the physical environment on the survival of primary producer.
  • describes what the ecosystem would be like in the absence of decomposers.
  • selects one species of plant and one species of animal in studied ecosystem. Justifies why each can be considered a species.
  • selects a group of animals or plants in the studied ecosystem and devises a key based on external features, which may be used to distinguish one species from another.
  • designs a simulation of how the characteristics of one species might change with successive generations if one of the physical conditions in the ecosystem were gradually changing. For example, the average annual rainfall might increase or the average temperature might decrease.

Essential Knowledge and Skills
The student:
  • examines energy inter-relationships to know that food provides the molecules that serve as the fuel and the building material for all organisms. Plants use the energy from light to make sugars from carbon dioxide and water. This food can be used immediately or stored for later use. Organisms that eat plants break down the plant structures to produce the materials and energy they need to survive before they are consumed by other organisms.
  • observes an ecosystem to understand that two types of organisms may interact with one another in several ways: They may be in a producer/consumer, predator/prey, or parasite/host relationship. Or one organism may scavenge or decompose another. Relationships may be competitive or mutually beneficial. Some species have become so adapted to each other that neither could survive without the other.
  • examines an ecosystem in detail to know that over a long time, matter is transferred from one organism to another repeatedly and between organisms and their physical environment. As in all material systems, the total amount of matter remains constant, even though its form and location change.
  • describes how energy can change from one form to another in living things. Animals get energy from oxidizing their food, releasing some of its energy as heat. Almost all food energy comes originally from sunlight.
  • identifies in the studied ecosystem at least one member of each of the kingdoms of living things (plant animal, fungus, protist, bacteria). Explains why any of the kingdoms is under-represented or absent.
  • grows a population of one species of fern from spores. Uses stereomicroscope to follow and record the complete life cycle from spore germination, gametophyte development, sexual reproduction, embryo development and growth of mature sporophyte. Collects data to demonstrate variation within the population. Explains how the various stages of the life cycle enable ferns to survive in the natural environment.
  • compares different reproductive strategies to know that in some kinds of organisms, all the genes come from a single parent, whereas in organisms that have sexes, typically half of the genes come from each parent.
  • performs investigations to know that animals and plants have a great variety of body plans and internal structures that contribute to their being able to make or find food and reproduce.
  • observes a wide range of organisms to understand that one of the most general distinctions among organisms is between plants, which use sunlight to make their own food, and animals, which consume energy-rich roods. Some kinds of organisms, many of them microscopic, cannot be neatly classified as either plant or animal.

Technology Integration
The student:
  • uses measuring tools to collect accurate data for comparing objects and events or for designing and constructing things.
  • uses communication and word processing software to construct journal entries and scientific reports or related narratives.

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Grade 8

Investigations focus on Physical Science at this grade level.

Use of a school garden to support science standards would depend on the teacher’s application of lessons to the garden.