I started developing a 'science garden' unit 18 years ago! Here are experiment steps,
detailed notes, 166 slides, a self-paced spreadsheet guide, a test review, and a test that
will support your efforts (and save you from making some of my mistakes).
In Kentucky, we sow seeds the first week in September and harvest by mid to late November.
The unit requires about 17 class periods, but several of these are partial periods (for
example, to water, weed, or re-seed).
The teachers' guide consists of 19 pages of detailed recommendations based on my years of implementing and revising this unit. Below is a list of the guide's topics:
-Why a science garden?
-Now view the students' handouts (the experiment) and the slide show
-Access to land
-Quality of soil
-Garden security / fencing
-Growing season / Cold weather challenges
-Step by step tips (8.5 pages long)
-Analysis / incorporation of spreadsheets
The slide show consists of 166 captioned photos. These correlate with the teacher's guide. They illustrate all materials and every step taken to create the garden and to implement the experiment.
The experiment handout consist of 10 pages (5 sheets of paper front and back). I introduce the scientific method with this experiment. The steps are detailed and include spaces for students to record the key variables of the experiment: the independent variable (= 'changed' variable); the dependent variable (= the 'measured' variable); and the controlled variables (which I subdivide into materials, conditions, and methods).
The self-paced spreadsheet instructions are 35 pages long. While hard copies could be distributed, to save paper my students receive this information online (as a GoogleDoc). With this document students teach themselves, at their own pace, how to create spreadsheets and graphs. The instructions assume that students have no previous experience with spreadsheets.
The investigation analysis is a 4 page handout that summarizes the key elements of the unit and guides students in preparing for the test. The topics of this handout are as follows:
I). What did we learn from this garden unit?
1. We reviewed the basic parts of an experiment.
2. We saw the power of spreadsheets and graph making.
3. We expanded our tools for thinking critically.
4. We learned that getting good data from outdoor experiments is tough!
II). Analyzing this year's data
The student test consists of 4 pages, but only 11 questions. I use large print and provide ample room for student answers. The primary goal is that students demonstrate their comprehension of the scientific method.
Student Handout (experiment) 10; Teacher's Notes 19; Spreadsheet instructions 35; Test 4