STEM: Pass the Plants, Please

PLT's Pass the Plants Please Activity

Engage your students in real-world applications of STEM education by using Activity 16, Pass the Plants, Please from PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide.

Healthy School LunchSTEM Strategies


Students learn about the science of dietary guidelines and the types of foods that promote a healthy lifestyle.

  • Enrichment Question: Based on these dietary guidelines, what would you serve for lunch at school so that you and your classmates have a balanced meal?


Students can use this web-based calorie calculator to find the calories consumed during a given period of time. Students can log their daily caloric intake for a 4-day period, as described in the activity. Have your students record this information in a spreadsheet and graph the results.

  • Enrichment Question: Using the calorie calculator, list food items that students like to eat along with the calorie content for each food item. What foods have the highest and lowest calorie content?


Part A of this activity challenges students to think about the plants found in the foods they love. Students love pizza, for example, and once students list and categorize the plants and parts of plants in the recipe, ask them how we get the ingredients from plants. For example, bread in the crust is made with flour, which comes from ground grain (or gluten free options). Ask your students how plants become ingredients and what tools they would use to turn plants into ingredients.

  • Enrichment Questions: Have students discuss how they would prepare ingredients for their family. How would they scale up or improve the process to make enough ingredients for the whole school?

Students can extend this activity by investigating the subject of genetically engineered or modified foods. Share this video about how genetically modified food is made and discuss the difference between organic and engineered foods.

  • Enrichment Questions: What do you think about genetically modified food? Would you eat it?  Explain why or why not.


Have your students record their intake of food and count the number of plant items found in their lunch each day. Students can log their findings in a spreadsheet, then create charts or graphs that track daily or weekly plant consumption. Students can also graph by plant type, nutrients in their foods, or compare their food intake with the recommended daily intake of food.

  • Enrichment Questions: How might the daily consumption of plant foods change each season? Is there a difference in the frequency of plants in your students’ lunches over the summer and fall vs. winter?

Additional Resources

Don’t have PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide?

  • Purchase a print guide or e-book, available from, Amazon and other places where books are sold.
  • Get it through your PLT State Coordinator along with hands-on professional development, alignments to state standards and other state-specific supporting resources.

Don’t consider yourself a formal teacher?

  • Check out PLT’s Pass the Plants, Please family activity. We have 40+ activities for families that can be easily used by parents, grandparents, youth group leaders, nature centers, and other nonformal programs.

Kris Irwin Ph.D.

Kris Irwin Ph.D.

Dr. Irwin is the Associate Dean for Outreach at the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, The University of Georgia. Kris has a diversity of experience in environmental education, outreach, and instructional design. He is Co-Coordinator for the Georgia PLT program and was recognized as a National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator in 2002.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.