Tropism and Dormancy: Lesson Plan

Plants can move toward or away from a stimulus (tropism), or halt their growth completely (dormancy) when conditions are not ideal.

UNC-TV Media


  • The Oak Stands Tall
  • O Christmas Tree


  • The Mighty Oak

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • 6.L.2.2 — Explain how plants respond to external stimuli (including dormancy and forms of tropism) to enhance survival in an environment.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • List abiotic factors that contribute to the ability of plants to survive in an ecosystem
  • Define tropism and dormancy
  • Compare and contrast different types of tropism

Essential Vocabulary

  • Tropism 
  • Dormancy
  • Photosynthesis
  • Germination


Students will view the NC Science Now video Oh Christmas Tree. As they view the video, students should answer the questions on the attached PDF. They can discuss their answers with a partner or in small groups.


Students will read the NC Science Now blog “The Mighty Oak” and address the following questions during class discussion, during which the term “tropism” can be introduced.

  1. According to the blog, what is the key reason oak trees are mighty?
  2. What is the first part of a future oak to emerge from an acorn?
  3. Why do most of the roots of oak trees grow downward?
  4. Why do some oak tree roots grow sideways? 


Students will view the NC Science Now Animation “Tropism and Dormancy,” and answer the questions on the attached PDF as they watch.


Students will watch NC Science Now Video The Oak Stands Tall to learn how mighty oaks can survive fires. They can answer questions on the attached PDF as they view.


Construct an animation, or write a three-paragraph paper, about the ways in which plants respond to the following stimuli:

  1. Water
  2. Fire
  3. Gravity
  4. Light