Wisconsin Fast Plants Network

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What Fast Plant traits have you or your students observed and/or measured to look for the affects of changing environmental variables? Looking back through Fast Plant resources, we recently re-visited the Fast Plant Farmer's Almanac, which outlines key environmental factors in relation to growing Fast Plants. Farming Fast Plants also suggests (on the last page) a number of possibilities for observing, measuring, analyzing and comparing traits and factors during the life cycle.

We are about to embark on a revision of our Life Cycle resources, and would love to hear from our Fast Plant friends what you would add to our list of possibilities. We are also interested to hear what observations you found work well with particular learner age groups. For now, you can share ideas for this project by posting a comment to this blog. Soon, we will introduce some other ways you can collaborate on this project, too . . . stay tuned!

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Comment by Hedi Baxter Lauffer on December 14, 2008 at 11:59am
Carbon dioxide levels as a variable is an interesting option, David. In 1993, one of the Wisconsin Fast Plants Program newsletters featured an activity that is very similar towhat you describe here, using a chamber for growing the plants (and regulating the CO2 levels) made from a recycled 2-liter plastic bottle. This would be a great activity to revitalize with information from more current understandings about the atmosphere and climate change. You can find the pdf for this newsletter on the Fast Plant website at http://www.fastplants.org/pdf/activities/fpnotes_1993.pdf
Comment by Jim Backus on December 9, 2008 at 10:35pm
I teach sixth graders. Each student grows at least three plants and keep track of them during the life cycle . They then use graphing calculators to find the median for height, number of flower buds, number of flowers, number of pods and number of seeds that germinate. Then as a class they find the median for all the mentioned data. After that we graph each of the fix classes ( again its the medians)
The question they are trying to answer is what is the best amount of fertilizer to use. I have been doing this since ... way back when.. ask Coe how long ago she introduced me to Fast Plants.
Comment by David Fulker on December 9, 2008 at 4:51pm
It might be interesting to vary the carbon dioxide level (perhaps utilizing students' breathing?) because of how this relates to climate change. However, it may be too hard to address the attendant challenges, including: a confined growing space that would contain the air having elevated CO2; separating the effects of CO2 from those of heightened humidity (also present in students' breath); quantifying CO2 levels. Finally, I have no idea whether it's practical to vary the CO2 enough to have classroom-observable impact.
Comment by Hedi Baxter Lauffer on December 9, 2008 at 10:50am
Thank you, Jim, this sounds like it generates a great investigation. What grade level students are doing this? Does the whole class work together to investigate the same question--what is the affect of fertilizer on plant height (or something like that) or do student groups ask different questions about fertilizer? Thanks again for sharing!
Comment by Jim Backus on December 7, 2008 at 10:34pm
Well, I have used the amount of fertilzer as my variable. I have five different classes growing the plants, in the same film-canister systems, same watering system, same lights, same temp. and same soil. The only difference is from no fertizer to more in each class. So period one of the day when they plant have none, and period 2 has a certain amount, which period 5 gets more off. I think you get the picture.

The students measure the plant height from the soil level ( yes you can argue its not the same in each canister), to the top of the plant daily. They count the number of buds and then flowers, and when the time comes number of pods and seeds. Then we take it one more step, using petri dishes we take the second generation and see which class has the most sucess with germination.
We use the data tables to collect an median for each class and compare all the results.
Comment by Elise on December 7, 2008 at 7:51pm
I would definetly add the average height for each day.
Day 1 - Day 2- in mm
and I would also add the difference in the plants depending on temperature.

Hope this helps!



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