Plant Growth

IGN BiosciencesScience Bridge

Plant Growth

The project investigates what promotes and what inhibits the growth of plants.

Scientific methods (how to plan an experiment, observing, measuring, writing a protocol, evaluating data)


Age group:

7 to 13 years

Number of participants:

Class up to 24 pupils


One day introduction and setting up the experiment with the Science Bridge Team

Three weeks observation, measurements, writing protocol with teacher

One day data evaluation, discussion of results with teacher and Science Bridge Team.



All our food is based on plant growth and efficient, sustainable agriculture is especially essential for countries like Indonesia. But Indonesia has essential problems with various kinds of pollution like e.g. soil contamination from mining but also clean water and garbage disposal.
The project has three aims:

  1. a) the simple observation that plants need light, water and nutrients to grow,
  2. b) an experimental setup to demonstrate that pollutants like oil, salt, sewage and others are disadvantageous for plant growth,
  3. c) basic understanding of a scientific experiment like planning, controls, documentation and interpretation of results.



SB plant growthSeeds of robust plants (peas, beans) are used for a planting experiment. Potting soil is mixed and for different pots contaminated with defined pollutants (e.g. salt, oil, soap, different kinds of garbage). A set of pollutants is given by the supervisors but the participants may suggest additional conditions.

Furthermore, pots are set up in the dark, for minimal and excessive watering and for watering with sewage.

The same number of seeds is planted in each pot and germination/growth is monitored/documented each day (or each second day). Documentation may be done by photographs.

Participants are responsible for watering and observing the experiment regularly.

A protocol for documentation (plant size, number of leaves, color of leaves, flowers, etc.) is suggested but the participants may suggest additional measurements.


At the end of the experiment the plants are carefully removed from the soil, washed and measurement/description of the roots is added to the data sheets.

The most simple analysis is the number of germinating seeds and the size of the plants but there are endless further evaluations like e.g. correlation between length of roots and shoots, leave number and leave size etc.


There are essentially no limits for ideas and the experiment provides an ideal setup to stimulate the creativity of the participants.



A PowerPoint presentation, a detailed protocol for setting up the experiment and data sheets will be prepared.



We will advertise the experiment at several schools in the Malang area. Most importantly we will have to find teachers who are committed to accompany the experiment for at least three weeks.

The Science Bridge Team will teach the first and the last day of the experiment together with the teacher.


Further measures

The experiment does not require funding. Seeds, potting soil and containers can be easily obtained.

We have to find out if such a long term project is doable during regular school days for an entire class or if it should rather be carried out as a special project for a smaller group of interested pupils.

We may establish a Facebook site to show and discuss the results from the participants and to provide further information.


Dissemination of the project

On this page we will report on further progress in the development of the project.

With successful implementation of pilot courses we will offer a training course for interested groups of students and lecturers from IGN partner universities.

Teaching materials will be made available to the other IGN partners.


Progress as of Dec. 30th, 2015

A PowerPoint presentation has been set up. The experiment has been carried out successfully with significant effects from soap, salt and oil contamination.