This exercise helps students think about how plants grow in a fun and enticing manner. Teams of students “grow a plant” composed of “leaves,” “roots,” and “flowers.” The goal of the game is to produce a maximum number of flowers, which is possible only if the students have a good strategy to keep their “roots” in water and produce enough “leaves” to support adequate photosynthesis. Students “grow their plant” in a graduated cylinder with paper clip roots dangling in water. Measured amounts of water are added to and removed from the system by “rainfall” and “transpiration,” which is determined according to a roll of the dice. The game ends when another roll of the dice indicates a “frost.”
Since the rate of growth of each student’s plant is limited by the “weather” and by the students’ choices in how they allocate their fixed carbon, a few repetitions of the game clearly demonstrate the functions of leaves, roots, and flowers, and some of the environmental stresses on plants.
This activity is available as a kit through CIBT’s Equipment Lending Library.