ALEX Lesson Plan


Too Much Light, Too Little Growth

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Angela Lynn
System: Jasper City
School: Memorial Park Elementary School
Author:Kelsey Luce
System: Albertville City
School: Albertville Primary School
The event this resource created for:NASA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34211


Too Much Light, Too Little Growth


During this lesson, students will observe and record the various effects of different durations of light on plants. Students will additionally be able to understand the common misconception that constant light on plants will result in constant growth of the plant.

This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
5 ) Plan and carry out an investigation, using one variable at a time (e.g., water, light, soil, air), to determine the growth needs of plants.

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.5: Natural materials have different properties that sustain plant and animal life.

NAEP Statement::
E4.7: The Sun warms the land, air, and water and helps plants grow.

NAEP Statement::
L4.1: Organisms need food, water, and air; a way to dispose of waste; and an environment in which they can live.*

NAEP Statement::
L4.2: Organisms have basic needs. Animals require air, water, and a source of energy and building material for growth and repair. Plants also require light.

NAEP Statement::
L4.3: Organisms interact and are interdependent in various ways, including providing food and shelter to one another. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs are met. Some interactions are beneficial; others are detrimental to the organism and other organisms.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Planning and Carrying out Investigations
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Plan and carry out an investigation of the growth needs of plants to collect data on the effects of providing/withholding enough water, light, nutrients, and air.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Investigation
  • Variable
  • Water
  • Light
  • Soil
  • Air
  • Nutrients
  • Causes
  • Effects
  • Isolate
Students know:
  • Basic growth needs of plants include water, nutrients, light, and air.
Students are able to:
  • Conduct an investigation to produce data used as evidence.
  • Determine the growth needs of plants.
  • Collaboratively develop an investigation plan that describes key features of the investigation and isolates variables as needed.
Students understand that:
  • There are observable patterns present in the growth of plants that can be used to determine the needs of plants.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Plants and Bugs
Plant Growth and Development, STC
The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, EiE

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.2.5- Participate in investigations of the growth needs of plants (e.g., water, light, soil, air) over a period of time.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Essential Question- What is the best amount of light to give a plant? 

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

3 Plastic Cups (9 oz., Clear) 

3 Plants (Grown Partially Already) 

Water (Enough to Cover the Soil of 3 Plants)

Florescent Desk Lamp (to provide constant light) 

     *It is extremely important that the lamp you use is florescent, as it imitates sunlight the best of any type of artificial light available.

Access to a Sunlit Window

Access to Closet or Dark Space

Technology Resources Needed:



Overhead Projector 


Internet Access

YouTube video-


The teacher will need to have knowledge of and discuss with the students the basic needs of plants/the process of photosynthesis. 


Before starting:

Discuss the basics of photosynthesis. Show the following video: then discuss with the class.


Students will place plants in plastic cups. Plant one will be placed in a window where it will receive light during the day and no light at night.

The second plant will be placed under a desk lamp that will be left on 24 hours a day for the duration of the experiment.

The third plant will be placed in complete darkness (in a closet, cabinet, etc.)

All plants will be watered equally as needed. They will also need access to air.

Day 1:

Students will predict what effect they think each variable will have on the plants.

Students will draw a picture of each plant on "Monday" on handout 1 after students have observed each plant as a class. 

Days 2-14

Over the next two weeks students will observe the plants periodically. They will draw their findings on "Friday" of both weeks to record the changes.

Day 14:

Students will draw a picture of what each plant looks like on the final day using "Handout 1". Students will discuss what they found throughout the experiment. They will write why they think the amount of light has the effect that it does on the plants. Additionally, the teacher will discuss the effect that the amount of light has on photosynthesis to wrap the lesson up. 

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Assessment Strategies

Informal Assessment: Teacher Observation, Questioning ("What happened to each plant?", "What are the differences in each plant?", "Why do you think that happened?") 

Formative Assessment: Handout 1 (Directions Provided in Attached Handout)



Students could give each plant the same amount of light each day. They would use different color filters for each plant (colored plastic, color paddles, etc.) Students will then document the changes in Handout 1 over the course of two weeks.


Allow students who may struggle with this, or any other students, time to read various books about plants and plant needs. This will help them to develop an understanding of plant development.

Additionally, the teacher can use a review of the photosynthesis process through literature, as well as diagrams that help students visualize the process. In the "Technology Materials" section of this lesson plan there is a link where you can browse a few different materials that you can use for remediation of the process. 

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.