Description: This dramatic time lapse shows corn kernels sprouting over time. Each of the kernels represents a new corn plant and so corn cobs represent a wonderful organism for studying genetics. In elementary this phenomenon can be used to show what plants need to survive. In secondary students can investigate specific crosses, analyze patterns in the offspring, and could even study transposons "jumping genes".
Description: In this phenomenon the crowns of certain trees do not touch. The physiological mechanism and cause of this phenomenon is not clearly understood. Since it appears in several species of trees that are not directly related it may be an example of convergent evolution. Students could speculate on why this occurs and in the upper levels may attempt to determine the mechanism of crown shyness.
Web Resource: Crown shyness - Wikipedia
Description: This is an excellent phenomenon that can be used in many different units. According to researchers only young sunflowers will follow the Sun. These flowers are following a natural circadian rhythm to receive the most light for photosynthesis. However when they mature the flowers will mainly face east. The reason for this is fairly simple, bees like warm flowers, and the flowers facing the east are the warmest.
Description: Air plants (Aerophytes) don't require soil to grow so they can use used as an introductory phenomenon as your students explore plant needs. Air plants live in areas with high humidity and are generally epiphytes (plants that live on but are not parasites of) living on larger trees. Air plants obtain the water they need to survive from the environment so they must either be misted or occasionally dipped in water.
Description: This phenomenon will show students the diversity of plants in their local habitats. If you collect seeds from various locations (e.g. meadow, forest, etc.) you will see differences in the plants that grow. The socks mimic the functioning of animals as they move seeds from one location to another. This planting could also be combined with an investigation of what plants need to survive. The amount of sunlight and water could be varied with each of the different socks.
Web Resource: How Stuff Works
Description: Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (i.e. fish farming) with hydroponics (i.e. growing plants in water). Matter cycles in the system and is driven by energy flow from light. Waste from the fish is used as fertilizer for the plants which in turn feeds the fish. Excess plants and fish can be harvested as food for humans.
Description: The Ecosphere in this video has been sealed in a glass container for 12 years. No air or food was able to enter or leave the Ecosphere during this entire time yet the shrimp are all still alive. This phenomenon can be used in the elementary science classroom to introduce plant and animal needs. It can be used in middle and high school to address matter cycling and energy flow.