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Growth of Plants

Students examine a plant
Student plants
Student drawing and description 1
Student drawing and description 2

Click Thumbnails to Enlarge

Engineering the Growth of Plants in Ithaca Case Study
School(s):  Belle Sherman, Randi Beckman
Grade(s): First Grade
Subject(s): Reading, Writing, Science, Engineering, Math

Essential Questions

How do we grow food that we could eat this fall? What do plants need to survive?
What is a healthy growing environment for them?
How can we design and build a structure that will allow our plants to grow outside in Ithaca?

Case Study At A Glance

Students were challenged with an invitation, “Can we grow something that we could eat this fall?” This prompted students to investigate gardening, engineering, temperature, and perhaps most of all, working together. Integrating reading, writing, math, science and engineering studies, students worked to understand the structures and functions of plants, what they need to grow and thrive, and explored the design and construction of a structure to support that life. Their VoiceThread tells the story of this project.

Standards Addressed/Long Term Learning Targets


  • Measure lengths indirectly and by iterating length units.
  • Order three objects by length; compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.
  • Represent and interpret data.
  • Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.


  • Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.


  • Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
  • Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.


Greenhouse Engineer who discussed appropriate design and needs of a hoop house.

Service Learning

Shared lettuce with the community at Harvest Dinner.
Students shared “How to Manual” with school community
Hoophouse to be shared with others at school.

Field Work

Shared our Voicethread with IHS students who built a greenhouse. IHS students  shared a powerpoint with us.


Anchor texts/Supplemental texts

Living Sunlight  by Bang and Chisolm 
A Fruit Is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards
There are no anchor texts available for building a hoop house. This website was helpful for the build