Introduction to the Scientific Method Lesson Plan
by Jeff Orlinsky
It is the start of a new year and you are looking for new way to start your class. How about introducing the scientific method with this simple experiment? Your students will investigate how increasing salt solutions affect seed germination, and the results can be used to make connections to different topics in your class.
Grades: 7th – 12th Grade
Subjects: Biology / Life Sciences, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, English-Language Arts, Investigation and Experimentation, Life Sciences. Although this lesson would work in any science class, it is intended for a life science class.
Topics: Germination, salinization; Extensions: osmosis, Human influences on the environment, plant growth.
Duration: 20 min Prep + 1 hour Activity + 1 hour Post
Zip-loc bags, paper towels
NaCl concentrations – 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0 grams/100 mL H2O
Graduated cylinders, 25 mL
Seeds, i.e. radish, lettuce
Introduce the topic of salinization of soils: soils and water contain minute quantities of dissolved minerals, and repeated watering and drying out of the soil increases the concentration of these minerals in the soil. This is known as soil salinization. Have students read the article, or parts of the article.
Preparation: you can make the salt solutions ahead of time, or you can have the students make the salt solutions. I have the students prepare the solutions, as this is my way of introducing metric systems and developing good measuring skills. I group the students to lower my cost, and each group runs the control (no salt) plus one variable (salt solution).
Have the students place 10 seeds on a paper towel, fold the towel, and place it into a Ziploc bag. Next, the students add the solution to the Ziploc bag and close it securely.
Check the bags daily, and after the 4th day count the number of seeds that have germinated.
Have each group determine the percent of seeds that have germinated, and collect the data from the class, averaging counts where the different solutions were duplicated. In addition, have the students graph their data. In most cases, the results are very clear. As part of the conclusion, have the students predict why the salt may be affecting the seed germination.
Throughout the year, I have my students return to this experiment, and I incorporate this experiment’s results into my lessons. For example, in my lessons on membranes and osmosis, I ask the students to review and update their conclusions.
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