Raising Plants - Experiment Ideas

Experiment Ideas
See activity ideas on the Wisconsin Fast Plant website for detailed information.

  1. Life Cycle – Raise Fast Plants from seed to seed. At each stage of the life cycle, discuss and study what the plant is doing. Discuss seeds, germination, growth, flowering, pollination, fruiting, and seed dispersal. Have students draw a life cycle diagram, adding a labeled picture of their plant at each stage of the life cycle. See the Fast Plants Life Cycle activity guide for a great diagram of the life cycle and information about the plants at each stage of life.
  2. Plant Traits – Examine the variation in plant traits. Pool the observations students made during the growth and flowering phases of the plant life cycle. Examine and graph the population data to determine whether there is a bell curve distribution of traits such as plant height. See the Growth, Development, and Flowering activity guide and the Getting a Handle on Variation activity guide for two different ways to conduct a study of plant traits and variation in a population.
  3. Artificial Selection - Sponsor an artificial selection program for hairiness (or height) in Fast Plants. Breed Fast Plants over several generations, always selecting either the most hairy or the least hairy plants to cross fertilize. For each generation, carefully quantify the number of hairs on each individual and construct a histogram showing data for the whole population. See the Hairy's Inheritance: Selection, Variation, and Inheritance activity guide for detailed information.
  4. Ecology – Experiment with environmental variables - salinity of the water, light conditions, nutrient supply, population density, pollution, or other factors – and monitor differences in plant growth and development. See any of the activities under Ecology, Environment, and Interactions Between Abiotic and Biotic Factors for detailed lesson plans.
  5. Coevolution – Investigate the coevolution of insects and flowering plants. Study the thorax of a bee under a dissecting microscope or strong magnifying glass. Look at the shape of the hairs on the bee’s body and its relationship to pollen. See the Flowering and Pollination - Pollination Biology activity guide for detailed information. Alternatively, raise Fast Plants and butterflies together in the same light box, studying their symbiotic relationship. See Brassica butterfly activities and rearing guide on the Wisconsin Fast Plant website.