Using Student-Produced Time-Lapse Plant Movies to Communicate Concepts in Plant Biology

Movie setup Why do students think plants are “boring”? One factor may be that they do not see plant movement in real (i.e. their) time. This attitude may negatively impact their understanding of plant biology. Time-lapse movies of plants allow students to see the sophistication of movements involved in both organ development and orientation.

The objective of this project was to develop simple methods to capture image sequences for lab analysis and for converting to movies. The technology for making time-lapse movies is now easily attainable and fairly inexpensive, allowing its use for skill levels from grade school through college undergraduates. In addition, this type of exercise can be expanded for inquiry-based or service-learning projects. Time-lapse movie exercises have been integrated into an undergraduate plant physiology course and also used in outreach activities.

Using a cheap webcam and free software, students produced movies based on quantitative measurement of root growth in radish seedlings, with an option to study downward curvature after reorientation (gravitropism).

The use of time-lapse movies of plant growth and other plant movement can help stimulate interest in plants and can be adapted for specific learning outcomes with varying levels of quantitative analysis, hypothesis development, and communication of results. Even if you prefer not to make your own plant movies, using them to enhance your curriculum by illustrating core concepts, or in case studies, makes plants more exciting and interesting to students.

Using Student-Produced Time-Lapse Plant Movies to Communicate Concepts in Plant Biology. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education Volume 14, Issue 1 May 2013


AJ Cann

ORCiD: 0000-0002-9014-3720

Alan Cann is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester and formerly Internet Consulting Editor for AoB.

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