Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan which is adaptable for grades 6-12, students use a free online science interactive to explore how a plant’s environmental conditions affect its growth and development. Students work in teams to adjust the resources the plant receives and view the results. They will learn what happens to plants in green light, or if different gases are present in the atmosphere.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Work collaboratively to identify the environmental conditions a plant needs to survive.
  2. Make predictions and test hypotheses about how various levels of light, liquids, and gases affect plant growth.


  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Computer with internet access
  • Four small dry erase boards, iPad/tablets, or large sheet of papers


This lesson plan features the game What Plants Need in which students explore how the resources a plant receives affects its growth and development. What Plants Need is a drag and drop interactive in which players adjust the resources a plant receives and view the results. Players will learn what happens to plants in green light, or if different gases are present in the atmosphere.

To prepare for this lesson, preview the Plant Growth movie and the What Plants Need interactive, and plan how to adapt the resources for your students' needs.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Divide the class into groups, and tell students they will be using an online interactive to explore the conditions a plant needs in order to grow. They will compete against the other teams to create conditions that allow their plant to not only survive, but thrive.

  2. Give each team several minutes to brainstorm the basic needs of plants, as well as factors that could adversely affect a plant's growth. Teams should record their ideas on a small dry erase board, iPad/tablet, or a sheet of paper.

  3. Play the Plant Growth movie and have students check off the factors they listed as a team. You may want to award each team one point for each factor they listed. Afterward, talk about what students learned. Are there any conditions that were not included in the movie? What else could affect plant growth?

  4. Project the game What Plants Need. Explain that students will need to choose from the parameters on the left column of the game to find the optimal conditions for plant growth. Students must select the right types of light, gases and liquids to grow their plant. The right hand column displays the sugar and oxygen production within the chloroplast. Players may zoom in or out of the chloroplast with the magnification control.

  5. Experiment with the interactive a bit, guiding a class discussion as students make hypotheses, test their predictions, and make cause and effect connections.

  6. Provide time for each team to plan and record a strategy for keeping their plant alive. You may want students to complete this portion of the activity based on what they already know about plant growth, or you may allow teams to try out the interactive on computers.

  7. Have the teams take turns coming up to the interactive whiteboard to explain their strategy and test it out for the rest of the class to see. Facilitate a discussion about the different combinations of light, liquids, and gases, and guide students to make inferences and draw conclusions.

  8. Encourage students to reflect on the environmental conditions they explored through the interactive. You may want students to design and conduct a real-life experiment based around one or more variables they explored in the interactive, and track the results over time.