Salt And Living Things

Part of the Ecology Disrupted Curriculum Collection.

salt crystal
image credit: Mark Schellhase 


Salt in Our Lives lesson plan


Salt in Our Lives investigation booklet



(Time required: about 46 minutes)

Students will learn how salt affects living things, at the cellular, organismal and ecosystem level.

1. Introduce how salt affects living and non-living things (1 minute)

"Yesterday, we watched the Science Bulletin based on Dr. Kaushal’s work.  We also discussed why road salt is used to melt snow and ice. Today we are going to look more closely at how added salt affects living things."

2. Students predict the effect of salt on tomato plants (5 minutes)

3. Demonstrate salting the eggplant (10 minutes)

4. Ask the students to review ecosystem fact sheets and complete in pairs the graphic organizer (15 minutes)

5. Complete the Salt Level demonstration as a "front of the class" demonstration or as a short laboratory exercise (5 minutes)

6.  Ask students to reflect on what they have learned from the salt and ecosystem case studies. (5 minutes)

Have students reflect on the previous activities to discuss how salt affects different organisms.

7. Complete the Exploring Salt in Our Lives section of the Investigation Booklet. (5 minutes)

Summary/Assessment:  Ask students to complete the Exploring Salt in Our Lives section of the Investigation Booklet, available in the Downloads section on this page.

Optional Extensions

Inquiry Lab:  Have students create a procedure for an inquiry laboratory exercise based on the question “What level of salt will start affecting the growth of plants or algae?”  Provide students with supplies for the lab, which for the most part can be purchased in a grocery store (algae can be purchased from scientific supply stores). Make sure that students include a control group in their experimental design (i.e. a plant or algae that receives regular tap water or rain water with no extra added salt).   

Regents Lab:  The osmosis red-onion lab required for the NYS Living Environment Regents Examination is a possible extension to this lesson and/or unit.