Do Plants Need Light?

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In this food science activity, learners conduct an experiment that demonstrates the importance of light to plants. This 1-2 week activity allows learners to learn about the needs of plants and plant growth. This lesson guide includes background information, variation ideas, and bilingual (English/Spanish) handouts.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 12 soaked bean seeds
  • 4 dry bean seeds
  • 4 hand lenses (magnifiers)
  • 4 peat pots (3-in. size), or disposable cups
  • 4 pieces of string or yarn (each approx. 6-in. in length)
  • 2 cups of moistened soil
  • Dispensing bottle (2-oz. size) or dropper
  • Metric ruler
  • Copies of student sheets


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Sunlight and Color
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Rate
    • Number and Operations
    • Reasoning and Proof
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Moreno, Nancy P. ; Tharp, Barbara Z.


  • All rights reserved, Baylor College of Medicine, 2011

Funding Sources:

  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, R25 ES10698
  • National Center for Research Resources, R25 RR13454