Do you have a green thumb? Well we know a terrific plant that germinates in 24 hours! Its name is Brassica Fast Plant.
In fourth grade, one of our science units is Plants, taught by Mrs. Haggett. What better way to learn about the life cycle of plants than to grow them! We were each given a square styrophone container which was divide into quarters. Into each section we filled it 1/2 full with soil. Then we added a layer of fertilizer followed by more soil. Mrs. Haggett gave each student eight Brassica Fast Plant seeds, two for each section.
Normally when you plant seeds you would water them. Mrs. Haggett has a nifty way to keep our plants hydrated. She has a shoebox-size, plastic container with a cloth stretched across the container. There is a corner of the cloth hanging into the water and the entire cloth absorbs the water. There are small holes in the bottom of each of the plant containers, which allows the water to be absorbed by the soil, which, in turn, hydrates the plants.
I bet you’re wondering how the plants grow? Well, here’s how the plants get light without putting them near the windows. Mrs. Haggett hooks up a lamp above the plants. As the plants get taller, she hooks the lamp up higher so the plants won’t hit the lamp. Sunlight is really important to help plants grow because it it is required for photosynthesis. The plant’s leaves absorb the light and turns the light energy into sugars for nutrition. When the plants are small they only have leaves on them. When they grow, they have leaves and buds. As the plants grow , they get really tall. They have lots of leaves, buds, and pistols. The pistols hold the seeds for the plant. That’s how the plants grow.
The fourth grade students like this science unit. Some of their comments are “I like it because it is fun to watch the plants grow”, ” you can see your plant closely, you can investigate your plant”, and ” you can see the roots coming out of the bottom of the container and see how tall they can get”. We have enjoyed growing the Brassica Fast Plants while learning about the life cycle of plants.
Brassica Fast Plants were developed by Dr. Paul Williams, a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Williams was studying a disease that affects cabbages. In order to study this disease, he needed a plant that had a short life cycle. It took him 15 years to develop the Brassica fast plant. Mrs. Haggett said this plant is perfect to teach children the life cycle of plants in a short amount of time.
We asked our teacher, Mrs. Haggett, why she likes teaching this unit. She likes that students can see the stages of plants growth from seed to seed. Just as real scientists observe and draw what they see, so do her students. She wants the students to understand how plants relate to animals, soil and energy. She likes how students get to do hands on activities like growing their own plants.
The fourth grade botanists enjoyed being scientists as they learned about the life cycle of plants while studying their Brassica Fast Plants. To learn more about Dr. Williams and the Brassica Fast Plants you can visit the following site: http://www.fastplants.org/sandbox.paul.php .
Reported by: Amy, Martin, and Sophia
Image of Dr. Williams from Wisconsin Fast Plants website accessed: 3 February 2012