In honor of the Spring growth I’m starting to see, here’s an easy science lesson that helps kids discover how organic material helps plants grow. The particular fertilizer used in this elementary science experiment is hundreds of years old, and comes from Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims.
Squanto made it possible for the Pilgrims to survive in the New World. He lived with them for the remainder of his life after they arrived, and helped maintain peace between them and the Wampanoag tribe.
Most important, Squanto taught the Pilgrims all about food native to their area, especially how to grow it! Here is a science experiment you can complete with your students to determine if Squanto’s advice was effective.
I like to lead my kids through the scientific process, and there’s room on the The Plant Race Observation Chart to fill out each section. The question needs to be some form of Will the fertilized plant grow faster? and the hypothesis needs to state which plant they think will grow faster – the one with Squanto’s fertilizer or the one without. You could also add a second element, which is how much faster will the plant grow? It’s essentially a race between the fertilized and unfertilized plants!
The Plant Race Observation Chart has 20 total squares for students to sketch and write down any growth they observe. As the plants grow taller, it would be a good idea for students to measure the plants for another way to see if the fertilized plants are growing faster.
Have your students summarize the results of their experiment with Squanto’s fertilizer. You may need to lead them through this part.
Students look back on their Question and Hypothesis and draw a conclusion that answers both.
When your done with this experiment, there should be enough plants for each student to take one home – although, one half will be better fertilized than the other!