activity page will offer:
an opportunity to germinate seeds and maintain seedlings
within a structured and controlled environment
opportunity to observe how a canopy effects seedling growth
experience in which students compare and contrast the effects
of canopy coverage on seedling growth
- packaged assortment of grass seeds
- shoebox with cover
- plastic transparency film (for overhead projectors)
- tape ruler
- permanent marker (to mark plastic)
- small flowerpots
- Work with a partner. Fill three small flowerpots two-thirds
full with soil. Plant a similar assortment of seeds in each
of these pots. Water appropriately as described on the seed
- Use scissors to carefully cut three square windows in
the top of a shoebox. The windows should be spaced evenly
along the length of the cover. Each window should be about
6 centimeters on each side.
- Cut out three squares of plastic transparency film. Each
square should be about 10 centimeters on each side.
- Use a ruler and permanent marker to create a 1 cm by 1
cm grid across the surface of all three squares.
- On one of the grids, fill in half the squares with the
black marker. These selected squares should be a random
assortment spread out over the whole grid. The marker must
completely fill each square, so that this small region does
not transmit light.
- On another grid, fill in 95 boxes with the black marker.
Only five random boxes should remain transparent.
- Leave one of the grids without any boxes filled in.
- Use tape to secure a grid to each of the cut-out windows
in the shoebox, placing the grid with half of the boxes
filled in in the center window.
- Position a seeded flowerpot beneath each of the windows.
Close the box.
- Water as necessary, but remember to replace the cover
as soon as the plants are watered.
- Each day, examine the soil for signs of seed germination.
Record all of your observations in a laboratory journal.
As the seedlings emerge, compare and contrast the success
and health of these plants.
- Observe the plants for at least a three-week period. Record
your observations on each plant community, comparing and
contrasting any observed differences between the three pots.
- After three weeks, count the number of plants in each
environment. Measure the height of each shoots, as well
as the length and width dimensions of the leaves (use higher
math calculations to obtain leaf area). Record your data.
If the plants grow too tall for the shoebox enclosure, you'll
need to create your own design for maintaining the experiment.
- How did the environment of the three flowerpots differ?
- Which of the three pots had the best growth?
- From your observations, how might ground cover affect
the successful growth of seedlings?
- How can this activity be applied to bison grazing?
minor fires be allowed to burn out by themselves in remote,
unpopulated regions? Supporters argue that smaller fires should
be allowed to burn since they keep the forest stable. These
fires often clear underbrush, giving trees space to repopulate.
Opponents argue that continual fires prohibit young trees
from growing into mature forests that can be used for commercial
purposes. They also argue that such fires prevent continual
public access to unblemished natural regions. What do you
think? Some other questions to consider: should wildlife be
saved at any cost? What constitutes a minor fire?
NUTRIENTS FROM ASH - INQUIRY IN ACTION
could you determine whether the ash from burned wood contains
nutrients essential for plant growth? Design a strategy for
inquiry that would test how the introduction of wood ash into
sterile soil affects vegetation growth. Share your controlled
experimental design with your instructor. With his or her
approval, perform your experiment. Upon its conclusion, discuss
your results with other class members.
BISON AND NATIVE AMERICAN NATIONS
the historical relationship between Native American nations
and the bison that roamed the prairie. How did these communities
interact? What sort of products, supplies, and food did the
animal offer? Was any sort of preservation program established
to ensure the continual existence of the bison herds? Why
or why not? How did the arrival of the European immigrants
affect the bison herds, and the Native Americans?
Smithsonian National Zoo prairie site
Buffalo: Spirit of a Nation
Detailed site for this PBS program about American Buffalo
of the Prairie Learning Center
Information for educators and students on the natural history
of the prairie. Classroom activities and resources are offered.
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Suzanne Panico, Science Department, Fenway High School, Boston,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,