The Plant Game: “Plant Strategies for Growth”
This exercise presents an opportunity for students to think about—in a fun and enticing manner—how plants grow. In the Plant Game, teams of students “grow a plant” composed of “leaves,” “roots,” and “flowers.” The goal of the game is to produce a maximum number of flowers. This is possible only if the students have a good strategy to keep their “roots” in water and produce enough “leaves” to support adequate photosynthesis. Students “grow their plant” in a graduated cylinder in which the paper clip roots dangle in water. Measured amounts of water are added to and removed from the system by “rainfall” and “transpiration,” respectively, which are determined according to a roll of the dice. The game ends when another roll of the dice indicates a “frost.” Since the rate of growth of each students plant is limited by the “weather” and by the students choices in how they allocate their fixed carbon, a few repetitions of the game clearly demonstrate the functions of leaves, roots and flowers, and some of the environmental stresses on plants.
The data collected during this game lends itself well to graphical analysis. Students may graph various parameters of their plants’ growth and compare the results from one “season” to the next or between strategies for growth in a single season.
Life Science, High School, Honors, or Advanced Placement Biology
One 45-minute class period is enough time to run through two seasons of the game. Substantial teacher preparation time for lamination of game pieces is required the first time the activity is used. After that, minimal teacher preparation is required.
For the Whole Class:
Per team of 2 students: