Structural Differences between Plant and Animal Cells

In this lesson, students will be challenged to distinguish between plant and animal cells by sight, and understand differences in their cellular anatomy and physiology. Participants will view microscope slides of plants and animals, compare animal and plant cell morphology, and build a plant or animal cell model. Finally, students will investigate cell anatomy and physiology, and act out the role of cell components in a classroom sized cell model.

Time: Three 40 minute periods


Observing Property Changes

In this lesson plan, students will be engaged in activities that allow them to explore what happens when two or more substances are mixed together. Included in this lesson are a variety of activities to explore this topic including the making of concrete beams and the observation of a reaction in a bag. The lesson also provides the teacher with content background that can be used in discussions with students.

Time: 4-6 class periods based on activities used


Water Cycle Game

This game is an introduction to the water cycle and the different reservoirs associated with it. Students pretend to be water droplets and roll cubes to determine their path through the nine different water cycle reservoir stations. This game teaches the relationships between the different reservoirs in the water cycle and the forms water takes as it passes between the reservoirs.

Time: 1 class period

Rock Cycle

This is an introduction to the rock cycle and first exposure to the three different types of rocks. Students are introduced to the different rock types and the process that change rocks through time. Students roll cubes to determine their path between the three different stations to simulate the movement of rocks through the rock cycle. This game teaches the dynamics of the rock cycle and is a precursor to the Mineral, Sedimentary, Metamorphic, and Igneous Lessons.

Time: 1 class period

Natural Resources

Everybody Needs a Little Sunshine

In this three-part activity, students determine how all life on earth depends on energy from the sun. The lesson begins with a photosynthesis experiment to reinforce student knowledge about plants’ requirement for sunlight in order to survive. In the second part, students become organisms within an ecosystem and make a food web, with the sun at the center. Students then choose their favorite animal and research using the net or books to draw its food web. Students apply what they have learned from the first two parts in the third part during which they break down their favorite foods into separate ingredients to link to the agriculture food chain and geographical origins of them.

Time: Two weeks duration for photosynthesis experiment, 4 class periods for activities

Freshwater Frenzy

In this multi-part lesson, students investigate different issues concerning freshwater. Using the Internet, students research freshwater limitations and distribution throughout the world and different uses of freshwater in the U.S. Students may make their own watershed and see how water bodies become polluted over time. Also, pH is introduced and is connected to an acid rain experiment.

Time: 2-6 class periods, dependent upon chosen activities

Soils Extravaganza

Students learn all about the resource under our feet in this three-part lesson. Students become familiar with the different components of soil and begin by sifting them out. They will get their hands dirty to determine texture and composition. Students also investigate how particle composition affects water movement and volume. Groups of students work together to build soil models then use their math skills to determine and compare water volume for the different models.

Time: 2-5 class periods, dependent upon chosen activities


The How and Why of Waves

The lesson introduces students to the phenomena of waves. Students investigate sound waves and other types of waves to learn how waves behave, what causes waves, and how they travel.

Time: Two-three 50 minute periods

Energy Conversion Activity

This lesson seeks to give students an understanding of the different types of energy and how one type of energy can be converted into another form of energy. As students cycle through the energy stations, they can indirectly observe energy being converted from one form to another.

Time: Two 50 minute periods

Exploring Electricity

This lesson first introduces students to the presence and effect of “static” electricity or charges. It also allows students to see how the forces between individual charges can cause electricity to flow. The final part of the activity allows students to investigate different types of simple circuits.

Time: Three 50 minute periods

Our Unique Planet

The purpose of this lesson is to give students an appreciation for the uniqueness of our planet earth. One part of the lesson uses an Excel spreadsheet where students get to act as planet designers and try to design a planet capable of supporting life by manipulating the planetary characteristics of size and distance from the sun. Students also learn about the characteristics of other planets in our solar system.

Time: Two 50 minute periods

Exploring Motion

Students investigate if any rules govern the way objects move and if the movement of objects can be predicted. One part of the lesson allows students to investigate specific instances of motion that highlight Newton’s three laws of motion.

Time: Three to seven 50 minute periods

Other lessons developed by PIE Scientists

The following lessons have been arranged by their content areas and are available for your free use in Microsoft word format.

Please share comments about our lessons with Gary Basey, Science Coordinator

Biology / Ecology

  • Body Systems and Blood Types (Word) (6.4.11, 6.4.12, 6.4.13)
  • Budburst and Greenup (Word) (6.1.2, 6.2.2, 6.2.5, 6.2.6, 6.4.8, 6.5.2, 6.5.4)
  • Cell Differences Between Plant and Animal Kingdoms (Word) (6.4.2, 6.4.5, 6.4.6)
    • Cell Lesson Slide set (PPT)
    • Cell handout (PPT)
    • Cell worksheet (Word)
  • Classifying Life (Word) (6.4.1, 6.4.2, 6.4.5, and 6.4.6)
  • Diversity of Life Microorganisms (Word) (6.4.1, 6.4.2, 6.4.4, and 6.4.9)
    • Protozoan Quick Guide (Word)
  • Freshwater Frenzy (Word) (6.3.8 and 6.3.16)
  • Acid Rain Effects (Word)
  • Aquifer Activity (Word)
  • Make a Watershed (Word)
  • Who Polluted White River (Word)
  • pH Basics (Word)
  • Aquifer Diagram (Word)
  • Habitats and Ecosystems (5th) (Word) (5.4.4, 5.4.5, 5.6.1)
  • Introduction to Microscopes (Word) (6.4.2, 6.4.5)
  • Monarch Life Cycle (Word)
  • Monitoring Ozone with Milkweed (Word) (6.3.13, 6.3.16, 7.4.14)
  • Population Dynamics (Word)
  • Population Worksheet (Excel)
  • Predator/Prey Interactions (Word) (6.4.8 and 6.4.9)
  • Data Sheet (Excel)
  • Protist Lesson (5th) (Word)
  • Protist Worksheet (Excel)
  • Structural Differences Between Plant and Animal Cells (Word) (6.1.6, 6.4.5, 6.4.6)
  • Using the Sun’s Energy (Word) (6.2.5, 6.2.7, 6.2.8, 6.4.10)
  • Water is the Difference (Word) (6.4.7)
  • Water, Water, Everywhere! (Word) (6.3.8)
  • What is a Watershed (Word) (6.3.8)


  • Earth Model (Word)
  • Earth Model Worksheet (Word)
  • Clouds (K) (Word)
  • Crayola Rock Cycle (Word) (7.3.7, 7.3.8, 7.3.9)
    • Chocolate Rock Cycle (Word)
  • Earth Processes (Word) (6.3.6 and 6.3.10)
    • Moon Phase Template (PDF)
  • Earth Seasons (6.3.5) (Word)
    • Seasons handout (Word)
  • Effects of Oceans on Climate (Word) (6.3.11)
  • Exploring Soils (Word) (6.3.15)
  • Our Unique Planet (Word) (6.2.2, 6.3.1, 6.3.4)
  • Preventing Soil Erosion (Word) (6.2.5, 6.3.15)
  • Rock Cycle Game (Word) (7.3.8 and 7.3.9)
  • Game Cubes (pdf)
  • Rocks Unit Overview (pdf) (7.3.8 and 7.3.9)
  • Soil Texture and Composition (Word) (6.2.5, 6.3.15, 6.3.19)
  • Solar System Hall Model (Word) (6.3.1, 6.3.3)
  • Stars and Constellations (3rd) (Word)
  • The Solar System in Motion (Word) (6.2.3, 6.3.1, 6.3.2, 6.3.3)
  • Watching the Weather (Word) (6.3.5)
    • Weather Worksheet (Word)
  • Water Cycle Game (Word) (6.3.9)
    • Game Cubes (pdf)
    • Game Handout (Word)
  • Water Quality (6.3.8) (Word)
  • Weather Activity (6.3.9) (Word)


  • Energy Conversion Activity (Word) (6.3.17, 6.3.23)
  • Energy and Temperature (Word) (5.3.9, 8.3.9 and 8.3.10)
  • Exploring Electricity (Word) (4.2.3, 4.3.16, and 8.3.19)
  • Exploring Electro-Magnets (Word) (8.3.18)
  • Exploring Light and Prisms (Word) (6.3.21)
  • Exploring Motion (Word) (5.3.11, 6.2.3, 6.2.6 and 6.5.4)
  • Exploring Pendulums (Word) (6.1.2)
  • Modeling Matter (Word) (6.3.19, 6.5.5)
  • Refraction Activity (Word) (extension for 6.3.21)
  • The How and Why of Waves (Word) (6.3.22)
  • The Speed of Sound and Light (Word) (7.3.18)
  • Water from Nothing! (Word) (6.1.2, 6.2.8)


  • Balancing Equation with Bolts (Word) (8.3.12)
  • Worksheet (Excel)
  • Chemicals in Plants (3rd) (Word)
  • Endothermic and Exothermic Reactions (Word) (8.3.13, 8.3.14)
  • Exploring the States of Matter (Word) (6.2.5, 6.3.18)
  • Observing Property Changes (Word) (6.1.2, 6.3.18)
  • Pencil Electrolysis (Word) (6.3.19)
  • pH lesson (5th) (Word)
  • Precipitation Reactions (8th) (Word)
  • Smaller and smaller pieces (Word ) (6.3.19)
  • Sand, Salt, and Iron (6-8) (Word)
  • Temperature Probe Activity ( Word) (6.2.2, 6.2.3 and 6.5.4)

General Science

  • Dichotomous World (Word) (6.1.2, 6.2.5)
  • Doing Science (Word) (6.1.3, 6.1.6, 6.2.1, 6.2.2, 6.2.5, 6.2.6, 6.2.8, 6.5.4)
  • Mystery Tube (Word) (6.1.2, 6.7.2)
  • Sorting Shells (3rd) (Word) (3.1.2—3.1.5, 3.2.3, 3.4.1, 3.4.2)

Field Station and Environmental Education Center
Ball State University
Muncie, In 47306

Phone: 765-285-2641