How Scientists are Working to Create Better Crops for the Future Captain Planet Foundation (CPF)

Standard: Describe how photography helps us understand how plants grow
Time Needed: 50 minutes

Performance Tasks

Student will complete a graphic organizer while viewing a video about current research on how plant roots grow. Student will create a flow chart describing the process of plant growth.


Photosynthesis, time-lapse, genetically modified, algorithm


Pass out charts to students (or have them create the chart on their own). Student will fill in the chart while viewing the video This American Land: “Lights Camera Photosynthesis."


Teacher will review the concept of time-lapse photography and explain how that helps scientists understand plant growth. Teachers and students will discuss how studying the genes that make up the plants’ DNA helps researchers comprehend what makes a plant tick.

Other Questions for Discussion:

What are some other natural phenomena that we could learn from using time-lapse photography? (sunrise, sunset, egg-tadpole-frog, apple rotting, etc.)

Some additional time-lapse videos to watch:

Other activities: Plant different varieties of corn seeds in the classroom. Identify the differences in how quickly they grow. If a digital camera is available, set it up to take a time lapse sequence, to show students how that process works and why it takes so long to accomplish.

More Information:

Student Practice

Student will create a flow chart describing the process of plant growth. Student will draw each step, or use available computers to illustrate each step. The steps include: planting seeds, setting up cameras and red lights, taking time lapse photographs, analyzing the function of different genes by examining video and photographs.


Student will write a concluding statement connecting the photographing of plant growth to understanding how to create better crops in the future. If needed, students can use the starter sentence: Time-lapse photographs of seed growth help us understand _______________.

Lesson Video

Watch the full episode

Teacher Guide

Download the Resource Packet

Download our Resource Packet to aid you in your lesson plans. Feel free to selectively use the pages you think will most benefit your students.

Resource Packet Resource Packet (532 KB)

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