What Secrets are Hiding in My School Yard?

 Author: Jere A. Boudell 

DisciplineLife Sciences 

 Grade Level: 4-8

 Created in


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Soils of many different ecosystems often contain viable seeds (seeds that are capable of germinating), often referred to as a seed bank. While we think of the vegetation that we can see as the only vegetation that exists in a location, seeds of different species are often present in the soil. Frequently, buried seeds will germinate when conditions are “right” (appropriate temperatures, enough water, etc.), however, sometimes the soil must also be disturbed in order for the seeds to germinate. In this activity, students will collect soil samples from their schoolyard, allow the seeds to germinate, and identify species that emerge from the sample soil. Students will learn that seeds can be “dormant”, waiting for appropriate conditions in which to germinate. Students will also learn that other species may be present in an ecosystem, “hiding” in the soil.

1.Students will comprehend that species can “wait” until appropriate conditions to germinate (i.e. temporal variation in life cycles).
2.Students will comprehend that species other than the ones they can see are present in an ecosytem.
3. Students will collect, analyze and interpret the data.
4. Students will synthesize the information gained from the investigation and literature searches.
5. Students will write a report of the investigation

Keywords: Soil, Seed Bank, Germination, Environmental Conditions.


National Standards:

Life Science: Content Standrad C  

Reproduction and Heredity

Populations and Ecosystems

Arizona State Standards:

Strand 1: Inquiry Process
Concept 1: Observations, Questions and Hypotheses

PO 1 - Differentiate among a question, hypothesis and prediction.

PO 2 - Formulate questions based on observations that lead to development of a hypothesis.

Concept 2: Scientific Testing (Investigating and Modeling)

Design and conduct controlled investigations.

PO 1, PO 2, PO 3, PO 4, PO 5.

Concept 3: Analysis and Conclustions (Grades 6,7,8)

Analyze and interpret data to explain correlations and results; formulate new questions

PO 1, PO 2, PO 3, PO 4, PO 5, PO 6.

Concept 4: Communication (Grades 6,7,8)

Communicate results of investigation

PO 1, PO 2, PO 3, PO 5.

Strand 2: History and Nature of Science

Concept 2: Nature of Scientific Knowledge

Understand how science is a process for generating knowledge

PO 1, PO 2 (Grade 5) ; PO 3, PO 4 (grades 5,8).

Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

Concept 1: Changes in Environments (Grades 4,7)

Describe the interactions between human populations, natural hazards, and the environments.

PO 1

Strand 4: Life Science

Concept 3: Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem - analyze the relationships among various organisms and their environments.

PO 1, PO 3 (Grades 4,6)

PO 2 (Grades 6)

PO 2, PO 4(Grades 7)


 Lesson Plans (pdf / doc)
 Example Data Sheet (pdf / doc)
 Report Evaluation (pdf /doc)

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