Effect of Environment on Plant Growth

Janice Stephens; Jan Leach
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Demonstration , Experiment/Lab Activity , Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This activity demonstrates the effect of changes in the environment on the growth of plants. The plants are placed in environments such as high salinity, cold, heat, or drought and observe the different reactions (growth) of the plants to these conditions. Students discuss the desirability of breeding new types of plants that are better able to withstand these changes if they occur in the general environment. The objectives of this activity is to: 1. Plant, grow and maintain plants under different environmental treatment conditions. 2. Observe differences in plant growth between these treatments. 3. Compare the growth of treated plants with the growth of control plants.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 9
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 6
  • Middle School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.

Clarification Statement: Examples of local environmental conditions could include availability of food, light, space, and water. Examples of genetic factors could include large breed cattle and species of grass affecting growth of organisms. Examples of evidence could include drought decreasing plant growth, fertilizer increasing plant growth, different varieties of plant seeds growing at different rates in different conditions, and fish growing larger in large ponds than they do in small ponds.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include genetic mechanisms, gene regulation, or biochemical processes.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students will evaluate the effect of different environmental conditions on plant growth and compare that to the control group. Students will also discuss the impact of the environment on food production. The educator should add to the environmental factors with genetic factors. This can be accomplished by incorporating readings on genetic engineering and comparing how each influences plants; and the food that gets to market.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Practice is fully developed by the analysis questions after the data collection evaluation. Suggestion: have students write their scientific explanation in the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning format and then answer the analysis questions. This would provide for more in-depth analysis..

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This would come after a lesson on plant sexual reproduction and inheritance to be able to make the connection of genetics and environmental influences.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Teacher should add data analysis to show the probability of each environmental factor on plant growth

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Grade‐appropriate elements of the science and engineering practice(s), disciplinary core idea(s), and crosscutting concept(s), work together to support students in three‐dimensional learning. Partial elements of the disciplinary core are significantly addressed, that is the environmental connection to plant growth. The lesson also provides opportunities to develop and use specific elements of the crosscutting concept(s) to make sense of phenomena and/or to design solutions to problems.

  • Instructional Supports: Support provided for both educator and learner in this lesson. A second site will provide more teacher and learner information and can be used a supplementary reading. This is the supplementary site: http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/botany/environmental.html

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lab analysis question create a formative assessment. Other questions need to be added to provide more depth and to bring in the connection of genetics and environmental factors on growth.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is not a technology component to this lesson. The educator can add technology by analyzing data with a graphing done with a tablet or computer.