(Image from Teaching Tiny Tots)
Our educators love science and springtime, and we love bringing science to your classroom! Mobile Ed Productions, Inc. has a new science project for your classroom that will fascinate and educate your students at the same time: a pop-bottle terrarium. With this project, you can initiate discussions about ecosystems or use this project as a tool to discuss more complex concepts such as the water cycle and photosynthesis.
Terrariums are great at teaching students about ecosystems and require almost no maintenance after it has been created. Terrariums are self-sustaining because they have everything they need: water, soil, oxygen, and sunlight. The moisture in your terrarium will evaporate from the soil and plant leaves, condense on the walls and then drip down to rewater the soil. As long as the top is sealed tightly, this process can continue for weeks.
Terrariums can teach your students about:
- The life cycle of plants
- How earth systems work together
- Caring for the earth
Mobile Ed Productions, Inc. is passionate about equipping our educators with simple, effective, and entertaining projects that grow the minds of students on important topics. The Mobile Ed Productions blog is updated weekly with new tips for teachers of all grades and subjects. Continue reading for more simple directions on how to create this classic classroom science project.
(Image from Ranger Rick)
What You’ll Need:
- One 2-liter bottle of soda (with cap)
- Choice of three/four small plants (examples of fast-growing plants: grass, ivy, arugula, basil)
- 1 cup of small stones/pebbles
- 3 cups potting soil
- Distilled water
- Table cover if needed (newspaper, tarp, tray)
What You’ll Do:
- Remove labels from bottles.
- Cut the bottle in half about five inches from the bottom of the bottom.
- Place an inch of pebbles into the bottom of the bottle. This will make up your drainage layer to capture excess moisture. TIP: Add charcoal granules to this layer to prevent odors.
- Add three to four inches of potting soil.
- With a small spoon/shovel, dig a small hole into the soil and place a single plant into your hole. Cover with soil and pat down the surrounding soil slightly.
- Repeat Step 5 with three more plants. Space plants apart evenly.
- Add water to plants, but do not make the soil oversaturated. TIP: Use a spray bottle to prevent oversaturation.
- Squeeze the top half of the soda bottle back onto the bottom. Get ready to see your new plants grow!
ADVANCED VERSION: In addition to the above materials, you will need coffee filters, string, feeder fish, and fish food.
- Cut the top off the bottle just above the label.
- Remove the label.
- Add one to two inches of pebbles/rocks to the bottom of the bottom half of the bottle. Add room-temperature water over the pebbles along with your feeder fish. Water should fill half of the bottom half of your bottle.
- Flip the top half of your bottle upside down and set it on top of the bottom half of the bottle (the top of the bottle will point down into the water).
- Cut one small hole into the bottom of both coffee filters (layered together as one).
- Cut the string long enough to fit from the top of the bottle to the bottom.
- Create a knot at one end of your string and thread it into one of the holes in your coffee filter.
- Thread the string (already in your filters) through the top of the bottle, down into the water. Place coffee filters inside the top of the bottle.
- Add your plants of choice into your coffee filter. Plants and soil should be unfertilized to protect fish. You may need to add extra potting soil in this step.
- Add a small hole above the waterline. This is where you’ll add fish food once a day. Now watch your terrarium thrive!
NOTE: Keep the terrarium out of direct sunlight. Too much sunlight will increase the temperature of your terrarium and create fog.
We discuss unique habitats like terrariums in Mobile Ed Productions’ most “wild” educational program: Animals and the Environment. Not only are your students going to learn about their favorite animals in this program, but they’re going to see them right up close! The live display of animals captures your student’s attention, gets them excited about biology, and enhances your students’ grasp on ecosystems and animals not experienced in everyday life.
Though our live animals will captivate your students, interesting discussions will be had about how humans affect the lives of animals everywhere. Your students will leave our program better understanding of the relationship between plants, animals, and humans. This program demonstrates how the world works together as a whole and that we, as humans, have a large responsibility for it.
In the Animals and the Environment program, students will learn about:
- Endangered species
- Threatened species
- Causes of endangerment
Contact us here for more information about what Mobile Ed can bring to your classroom. Our team looks forward to getting connected with you through a chat on the phone or an email conversation!