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Celebrating Our



Social Studies



Brief Description

Students participate in a simple experiment demonstrating the effects of discrimination.


Students will

  • experience the effects of discrimination;
  • discuss their feelings about the experiment;
  • demonstrate the advantages of diversity.


discrimination, diversity, civil rights

Materials Needed

  • seeds from a variety of plants
  • egg cartons
  • potting soil

Lesson Plan

This activity, which helps students understand the concept of "discrimination," is a popular one in many classrooms, but it's one worth mentioning for those who arent familiar with it.

Begin by arranging students into two or more groups. Some teachers categorize students by eye or hair color; some have students wear badges of different colors (purple, green, and other colors not related to skin color); and others isolate students whose first names begin with the letter "b," (or whichever letter is the most common first letter of students' names in the class).

Then, for a class period or for an entire school day, one group of students (for example, students who have blond hair, those wearing orange badges, or those whose names start with "b") are favored above all the others. Those students receive special treats or privileges, and are complimented often. Students who aren't in the "favored" group, on the other hand, are ignored, left out of discussions, and otherwise discriminated against. At the end of the experiment, invite students to discuss their feelings. How did it feel to be treated unfairly -- to be discriminated against? Invite students to talk about times when they felt they were misjudged or treated unfairly.

When the experiment is concluded, you might emphasize the value of diversity with this simple project. Gather seeds of different kinds and invite each student to plant a variety of seeds in an egg carton. Plants of different shapes, sizes, and colors will sprout side by side in the egg carton. When the plants are large enough, transplant them into a large pot in the classroom or in a small garden outside. This garden will serve as a visual reminder of the beauty of diversity.


Assess students based on their participation in the activities and follow-up discussions.

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NS.K-4.3 Life Science
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.2 Physical Science
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.2 Physical Science

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