Raising Plants - Logistics

40-50 min to build a light box
20 min to build terraqua columns (See Terraqua Columns activity for details)
20 min to plant seeds
5-10 min to build bee sticks
5-10 min to fertilize on day 14-20
5-10 min to harvest seeds on days 21-40
Time to conduct experiments and make observations varies.

Each light box fits up to 9 terraqua columns constructed from 500 ml water bottles. Each water bottle terraqua column can accommodate 4 mature Fast Plants. Determine the grouping size based on the experiment you plan to try. Calculate the number of terraqua columns and light boxes required.

Light box
For one light box you need:

  • Scissors
  • Box cutter
  • 1 banker box or copy paper box
  • 1 Lights of America™ 30 watt CircleLite (order from Energy Federation Incorporated part # 1140.05 for $9.95 each)
  • 1 single socket electrical cord (available at most hardware stores for $5-10, often used for paper lanterns, garage utility lights, or lamp-making kits)
  • Tin foil
  • Glue
  • Clear scotch tape
  • Optional: window screen material and duct tape (bugs may be attracted to your light box and the screens can help keep the bugs out)

Don’t want to build light boxes? Have money to spare? Order one ready-made! Carolina Biological has several options:

  • Plant Light House™ (catalog # 15-8994, one light box for $85) is similar to the one described in this lesson
  • Plant Light Bank™ (catalog # 15-8998, one light bank for $145) is a table-top version with long fluorescent bulbs.

Terraqua columns
For 30 terraqua columns you need:

  • Seeds (A wide variety of Wisconsin fast plant seeds may be purchased from Carolina Biological. Standard seeds are catalog #15-8804 and 15-8805, 50 seeds for $10 or 200 seeds for $24)
  • 30 clear plastic water bottles (500 ml)
  • 30 6-inch long wicks (use a strip of cotton towel or a string from a janitor’s mop)
  • Soil. Fast plants grow best in medium or coarse vermiculite (Vermiculite is a mica-like mineral that expands in an accordion-like fashion in water, and is thus used as a soil additive for water-retention. You can find it in most garden centers for around $5-8 for an 8 quart bag.)
  • N-P-K fertilizer. Required for fast plants but may be unnecessary for other species.

Don’t want to build terraqua columns? Have money to spare? Order growing systems ready-made! Carolina Biological has several options:

  • Seed Challenge: Exploring Life Cycles Kit (catalog #15-8973, $60) provides everything needed for a class of 32 to raise Wisconsin fast plants from seed to seed - including a curriculum guide - except the light box (there are kits available for many other standard experiments as well, including monohybrid crosses, dihybird crosses, butterfly-flower interactions and more)
  • Growing System (catalog #15-8993, $35) provides everything for a class of 32 students except seeds and the light box
  • Watering System (catalog #15-8974, one watering system for $9.25) is designed for use with Quads (catalog #15-8960, 16 quads for $6.70) these are the watering system developed by Carolina Biological specifically for Wisconsin fast plants. Each quad holds 4 plants and each watering system holds 8 quads.

Bee sticks (for pollinating your plants)
For 30 bee sticks you need:

  • Dried bees (Carolina Biological catalog #15-8985, $5 for around 70 bees)
  • Toothpicks
  • Elmer’s glue