Plant Propagation Station

By Glowforge

Grade Level

K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12




1 hour


Biology Earth Science Science STEAM


ISTE 1.3: Knowledge Constructor

Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

– Asking Questions and Defining Problems – Developing and Using Models – Planning and Carrying Out Investigations – Analyzing and Interpreting Data – Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking – Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions – Engaging in Argument from Evidence – Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


Propagation Root systems Species Food Waste


Lesson Handout


Watch your plants grow! The Glowforge and some kitchen scraps are all you need to watch the wonder of propagation while making a greener, healthier, and tastier classroom. Learn about root systems, observe how plants grow and change, and compare how different species develop over time.


Thematic Questions

  • How can we reduce food waste and maximize the groceries that we buy?
  • How might I use kitchen scraps to help grow food?


ISTE Standards for Students
  1. 1.3 Knowledge Constructor– Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
NGSS Science & Engineering Practices
  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  2. Analyzing and interpreting data


For each Propagation Station you will need:

  • 1 x Medium Basswood Plywood
  • 2 x Test tubes or vases that are 4” tall and have a top opening of 0.6”
  • Kitchen scraps which may include the following items – green onions, lettuce, carrots, rosemary, or basil
  • Materials for customizing the Plant Propagation Station (e.g., markers, stickers, pens, or paint)

Salad prep materials:

  • Lettuce, carrots, green onions, rosemary, and basil
  • Salad bowl
  • Paring knife
  • Cutting board

Catalog Designs

Plant Propagation Station

Lesson Outline:

Get Ready:

  1. Have students read through the activity details to familiarize themselves with the steps to complete the activity.
  2. Gather all of the materials needed to print, assemble, and customize their Plant Propagation Station.
  3. Have a pre-printed Plant Propagation Station in order to model how to add a kitchen scrap to a test tube and into the prepared station.
  4. Use carrot scraps at two different propagation intervals, such as 5 days and 10 days, in your examples to model a plant’s development.

Production Time:

Print – 7 minutes

Assemble – 1 minute

Lesson Instructions

Section 1 – Create:

Have students…

  1. Plan for printing the Plant Propagation Station by gathering all of the materials and reviewing the designs in the Glowforge app.
  2. Create each propagation station by following the steps of the Plant Propagation Station design project to print and assemble its parts.
  3. Test their Plant Propagation Station. Encourage students to notice:
    • How well do the test tubes or vases fit in the design?
    • Is there anything that needs to change to make them work better?

Section 2 – Use:

  1. Have a cutting board, paring knife, salad bowl, scrap bowl, and selection of vegetables on display in front of class. Begin cutting the vegetables and adding the finished pieces to the salad bowl and the scraps to the scrap bowl.
  2. Take a bite or two from the salad bowl when it’s ready and then ask: “What usually happens to kitchen scraps at your house?” Give students time to think and time to share their ideas in pairs or small groups.
  3. As a class, watch Americans waste up to 40 percent of the food they produce. Ask: “How does the information in the video change how you view and understand the impact of food waste on our homes, the environment, and the country?”
  4. Introduce and explore the concept of plant propagation with students by watching the video How to Grow Food From Food or reading the article “Kitchen Scrap Gardening.” Encourage students to discuss how plant propagation is a solution to food waste by using questions such as:
    • How would you describe propagation?
    • What are the benefits of using kitchen scrap propagation?
    • What other types of kitchen scraps can you propagate?
    • How can growing food from plant scraps help reduce food waste?
  5. Have students form small groups and explore the model Plant Propagation Station. Ask: “What do you think is happening in the stations?” and “Where did these plants come from?” Give students time to think and time to share their ideas with others.
  6. Have small groups and select and prepare two kitchen scraps and add the scraps to their group’s propagation test tubes.
  7. Have students add water to the test tubes and place their Plant Propagation Stations in a safe, well lit location in the classroom, like a window sill.
  8. Give each student a copy of the Plant Propagation Station handout.
  9. Ask students to record their observations and a picture of their scraps now and at each set interval on their Plant Propagation Station handout.
    • Day 1
    • Day 5
    • Day 10
    • Day 20
  10. Remind groups to add water and adjust light intensity as needed until the end of their experiment. Encourage students to test out different variables over the course of the experiment.
    • Use plain tap water as a control in one test tube variables such as filtered water, distilled water, or water with added nutrients in the others.
    • Place one Plant Propagation Station in direct sunlight and another under a UV-light.
  11. As students observe plant growth over time, ask: “What impact do different variables or combinations of variables have on your plants’ growth?”
  12. Once plants are fully propagated, follow the steps in “Kitchen Scrap Gardening” for transferring the plants to soil or continuing to grow indoors.

Reflection Questions:

Help students consider…

  • What was unique about how each of your plants grew?
  • How could you alter the Plant Propagation Station to accommodate larger plants?
  • How might you use kitchen scrap propagation at home?

Pro Tips:

  • Connect with a Culinary Arts class or the school cafeteria to source your kitchen scraps.
  • If creating prototypes prior to doing final prints, use cardboard for test prints. Just remember that if the design uses joinery such as slots or finger joints, these may need to be adjusted to suit the prototyping materials.
  • Remember that you can continue to propagate and regrow your plants.
  • Consider using Glowforge to create tags or markers to help identify each plant, or to label when each scrap was propagated


  • How can you collect and propagate cuttings from other types of plants, such as flowers or trees? Find your own cuttings. Learn about stem, leaf, or root cuttings and then collect your own samples from local gardens or greenways. Consider growing and gifting plants for others in your community, around the school, or at home.
  • How might we enjoy a meal together from our kitchen scrap garden? Have a kitchen scrap propagation feast! Carrots, celery, lettuce, and many more plants can be propagated. Plan ahead by picking your favorites and a few weeks later have a healthy snack grown right in the classroom.

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