Help a droopy plant!

By Kate Fraser on Aug 24, 2015

In this lab the plants are adequately watered, but have stems that are falling over. This lab encourages students to identify a problem and to come up with possible solutions using a variety of materials.


  • Obtain a plant for each child or lab group in your class.
  • Divide students in small groups of 3 to encourage collaboration, which is an essential science skill.
  • If you purchase plants with a long stem they probably have supports. Remove the supports before giving the plants to the students.  
  • Give each student or group a tray, apron, goggles, and a plant.


  • Plants in pots with dirt
  • Aprons
  • Goggles
  • Trays
  Students may request these or other materials as they decide on a plan to support the plant:
  • Wooden sticks of various lengths (Popsicle sticks, skewers, and dowels, for example)
  • Twist ties
  • Strips of fabric
  • Twine


The student will:

  1. After putting on the apron and goggles, examine the plant that is on the tray tactually and visually.

    • What do you notice about the plant?

    • Hopefully some of the students will say the plant is falling over, or the plant is lying down and needs help to stand up straight.

  2. Think about what to do to help the plant stand up straight.

    • Write down the plan on your brailler, braille note taker, wide lined paper, or dictate to a classmate or teacher, including the materials needed and the steps to follow. 

    • Please note: if the students are unfamiliar with possible materials and have difficulty developing a plan, the teacher may need to show them a range of supplies, including those listed above Possibly also show them other materials that might not be helpful, so the students can understand the difference. If some students have difficulty understanding what the problem is they may need to tactually examine a plant that has an upright stem to see how the droopy plant is different. Some students may never have tactually examined a plant. See below for variations on this activity. 

  3. After the plan is complete, get needed supplies from the designated area or ask for assistance. Follow the plan to help the plant stand up straight.

    • Was your plan successful? Frequently engineers need to redesign as the first plan does not work. 

  4. Follow the engineering design process.

    • The engineering design process is a series of steps that engineering teams use to guide them as they solve problems. The design process is cyclical, meaning that engineers repeat the steps as many times as needed, making improvements along the way.

    • The Engineering Design Process - Teach Engineering

not a droopy plant anymore  


The student will:

  1. Look at the fasteners. Teacher may say: We will use the fasteners to help the plants stand up straight.  We will use the fasteners to attach the plants to the wooden sticks.
  2. Look at the sticks. Pick a stick to help the plant.
  3. Next, move the plant in front of you on the tray. 
  4. Put the stick into the dirt under the plant in the flower pot.
  5. Use the fasteners to attach the plant stem to the stick. Ask for help if needed.

You have helped the plants to stand up straight using fasteners and wood

NGSS Standards:

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
  • A situation that people want to change or create can be approached as a problem to be solved through engineering. (K-2-ETS1-1)
  • Asking questions, making observations, and gathering information are helpful in thinking about problems. (K-2-ETS1-1)

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

  • Before beginning to design a solution, it is important to clearly understand the problem. (K-2-ETS1-1)
  • Designs can be conveyed through sketches, drawings, or physical models. These representations are useful in communicating ideas for a problem’s solutions to other people. (K-2-ETS1-2)
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
  • Because there is always more than one possible solution to a problem, it is useful to compare and test designs. (K-2-ETS1-3)
droopy plant