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Scientific Method - Do Plants Learn (KEY)

Grade Levels
7th - 12th
Resource Type
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Students explore how real scientists answer questions by performing experiments. This story is based on an experiment published in Nature where scientists try to determine if plants are capable of learning. The nature article is too advanced for most high school students, so the worksheet I created simplifies the experiment and the results.

As students read the story, the discover what learning is and learn about Pavlov's experiments with dogs and foods. The plant experiment is similar because it explores the idea of learning by association (classical conditioning). Plants are grown with a maze tube allowing the plant to determine which direction to grow. Light is paired with wind, and scientists conclude that plants do learn to associate wind with a light source.

Questions at the end ask students to analyze the experiment, determine the dependent and independent variables, suggest a control group, and summarize the evidence given for the conclusion.

I've included a "BEE" version that makes the questions easier by providing multiple choices. Bee versions are used for differentiation (IEP, ELL).

The worksheet also includes a link to a youtube video that also describes the experiment. I recommend showing this video after the reading exercise and discussion of questions.

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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claim or a recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem.
Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.


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