May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

What Factors Affect Seed Germination?

Posted: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jeff Orlinsky

As you know, California Science Standards are changing and this year is a great time for teachers to examine old lab activities and modify them to the new standards. One of the changes in the standards is a focus on science and engineering practices, as listed below:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence

The transition from our standard laboratory activities to one that incorporates the NGSS practices may seem impossible at first, but it is not. For example, here is one way you can approach the NGSS science practices. A couple of years ago, I wrote a germination lab lesson for this publication. The lab I described was focused on helping students reach a conclusion based on data collected from an experiment. This year, I have revised the same activity to incorporate the NGSS Science Practice: “planning and carrying out investigations.” This activity is designed to reinforce the idea that experiments require planning, and troubleshooting, the major difference between a NGSS lab activity and a non-NGSS lab activity.

Seedling

What factors affect seed germination?

Students will investigate which type of plant/seed has the fastest germination rate. At the end of the experiment, students will be able to give a reasonable explanation of their results.

Grades: 7th – 12th Grade
Science Practices: Asking questions, planning and carrying out investigations, and constructing explanations.

Topics: Germination

Duration: 20 min Prep + 1 hour Activity + 1 hour Post
Setting: Classroom

Materials

  • Zip-loc® bags, paper towels
  • Distilled water
  • Graduated cylinders, 25 mL
  • Seeds (i.e.) radish, lettuce, corn, beans, green peas (may be purchased from a local garden or hardware store)
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Activity:

Introduce the topic of seed germination. Have students read the article or parts of the article Get seeds started inside to kick-start summer veggies.

  • Start by introducing the different types of plants and sizes of seeds and let them make observations about the seeds. Have students brainstorm about which type of seeds would germinate the fastest. Write their ideas on the board. Have the students defend their ideas. Typical responses might be: “Large seeds need more water to germinate,” or “ Softer seeds might germinate faster because the seed coat can easily split.” Ask them to rewrite their predictions as questions e.g. “Do larger seeds need more water to germinate than smaller seeds?”
  • After the students have brainstormed, have them form into groups and let them choose a question to answer.
  • Have them follow the procedures outlined on the Germination Procedure Handout.
  • 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 percentages.
  • Have the students graph their data. In most cases, the results may not be very clear. This is where we begin to focus on the NGSS science practices.
  • Have each group present their results and data to the class. In their presentations, they are to give possible reasons for their observations.
  • As part of the follow up questions: ask the students. “What would you do differently? How would this change affect your results?”
  • If time permits have the students repeat this experiment based on their suggestions for improvement.

Written by Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky teaches science at Warren High School and is a member of CSTA.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Jill Grace

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Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.