What Does a Plant Need?

By Laura Hospitál on Jun 09, 2016

Jim and Andrew, students at TSBVI, have been learning about the basic needs of plants.  This was their science project.

Many thanks to Jeri Cleveland and Debra Sewell, TSBVI curriculum department, for this project idea from the science curriculum, which is currently under development. 


The pots were labeled in preparation for this project.


  • Jim - Can seeds sprout without space (soil)?
  • Andrew - Can seeds sprout without air?


  • Jim - Seeds will not sprout without space (no soil).
  • Andrew - Seeds will sprout with no air. 


  • 3 small pots, plastic or peet
  • 1 plastic tray holdpots and catch excess water
  • 1 pkg. seeds
  • potting soil and fertilizer
  • assorted pebbles and small objects 


  1. Set up a “control” seed cup with good air, water, nutrients (soil), sunlight, and space.
  2. Jim chose to test the need for plants to have space.  He filled a small pot with rocks.
  3. Andrew chose to test if plants need air.  He filled a pot with soil.
  4. Labels were made in print and braille for all 3 pots:  “Control, No Space, and No Air”.
  5. Labels were attached to the pots.
  6. "No Space" to the pot with rocks, "Control" to a pot with soil, and "No Air" to another pot with soil
  7. We will water all the plants 2 times per week  - 50mL each time
  8. Andrew's pot will be kept in a ziplock bag tightly closed. "No Air"
  9. Jim's pot will be the "No Space" pot with rocks and no soil
  10. Students will observe the plants and record results twice  a week when watering them. 


  • Control: Seeds didn’t sprout
  • No Air:   Several seeds sprouted. they lived for only a few days and then died.  The bag filled with a gas
  • No Space:  Seeds didn’t sprout.

We discussed why the plants in the bag died and where the gas came from (photosynthesis).


Our hypotheses were right. The seeds in Jim's trial didn't sprout without soil and the seeds in Andrew's trial did sprout without air.  

NGSS Standards:

Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g. number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly. (HS-ESS2-5)

Pinterest collage for plants sprouting

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