Design a Planting Rubric

* Planting Instructions
* Choosing the Best Garden Site, pictured below (sample planting rubric)

Because your tulips will proclaim the arrival of spring in your community, you must plant them in a site that best satisfies the growing conditions that all official gardens must meet. (This will lead to a "fair" experiment.)

To determine the best site on your school grounds, read the official planting instructions and design a rubric so you can evaluate different possible garden sites.

Laying the Groundwork
What factors do you think affect tulip growth (e.g., amount of sun plants get)? Make a class list. Then think about these questions:

  • If we want to see when spring arrives in different locations (as revealed by tulips), how should schools plant their bulbs to make this a fair experiment?
  • If one school plants bulbs in the shade and another grows them in the sun, which do you think might bloom first? Would this be a fair test? Why or why not?

Because we want to explore only how each school's location in the hemisphere affects when tulips emerge and bloom, official Journey North gardens must have all other variables (e.g., planting depth) kept the same.


1. Read
through the planting instructions (Journey North protocol). List all the growing conditions your site must meet.

2. As a class, compile the list. Reword all the requirements so they describe conditions you want your garden to meet. (For example, see wording of Sample Garden Site Selection Rubric.)

3. Using your
descriptive list, design a scoring system for your own rubric. Younger students might try a simple scoring system with "yes" (site meets condition) "no" (site DOES NOT meet condition). Older students might use a more specific rating system, with point values of 0-4.

4. Go outside and rate each variable for each possible garden site. Add up the total score for each site -- and go plant your garden on the site that scores highest.

Journaling and Discussion Questions

  • Why is it important in this international science experiment to have all schools following the same instructions (protocol)?

National Science Education Standards

Science as Inquiry
Plan and conduct a simple investigation. (K-4)

Employ simple equipment/tools to gather data and extend senses. (K-4)

Life Science
Organisms have basic needs. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met. (K-4)

Earth Science
Soils have properties of color and texture, capacity to retain water, and ability to support the growth of many kinds of plants, including those in our food supply. (K-4)

Weather changes from day to day and over the seasons. Weather can be described by measurable quantities, such as temperature, wind direction and speed, and precipitation. (K-4)