Bundle 3: Communications

Tier 2, Part A: WiFi & Living Organisms

Tier 1: How Does WiFi Work?


It has been reported that students have decreased attention in classes when they’ve slept with their cell phones on, and that WiFi may be harmful to our health. This led individuals to wonder about the effects of cell phone signal, and WiFi on living organisms.


Students will continue to develop the ideas established in Tier 1 of this bundle, by investigating the impact that cellular and radio waves have on living things.  This interdisciplinary activity ties together standards from life, physical, and earth/environmental science.

Big Questions:

  • What are the effects of WiFi and cellular signal on seed germination and growth?
  • Do all plants respond to WiFi and cellular signal the same?
  • Is there a minimum “safe” distance?
  • Does it matter what stage of growth the plant is in?

Standards addressed:

MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
MS-PS4-2 Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

Tier in depth:

Part 1 –

This is an opportunity for students to develop a deeper understanding of the relationships between waves (cellular & WiFi) and living organisms.  Through this investigation, students are able to determine whether or not WiFi or cell phone signals have any impact on living organisms, specifically plants.  Students can explore different variables including type and strength of signal, plant species, or distance between signal source and living organism.  This activity could be used as a starting point for looking more closely at the claims made in newspapers and other media sources about the health effects associated with cellphones and WiFi.


Part 2 –

What follows is a list of articles that students could consider as they begin to collect evidence to support their claims, based on the results of their experiments.  One possible direction that students may want to consider for this part of the bundle would be to engage in argument from evidence to support or refute claims about the impacts of waves (cellular/WiFi) on human health.  Consideration should be given to the credibility of sources.

As students design experiments to answer their Big Questions, they should begin putting together a list of necessary resources, some of which may appear below.

Student Resources:

  • Cress, or other plant seeds
  • Wi-Fi routers/hotpots
  • Cellular devices
  • Potting materials as requested by students






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Iowa 8th grade Science Bundles Copyright © by Ted Neal, Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.