They are a fun, interesting, beautiful and relatively low-maintenance way to add a little science to your home.

Terrariums are self-contained environments for small plants.  Much like having your very own greenhouse on the shelf.

After adding a permeable layer to aid in drainage (we used fish tank pebbles), we added a thin layer of activated charcoal to help with filtering (some also add a layer of spagnum peat moss).  Then came a nice layer of a good potting soil.  A few tiny tropical plants were placed into the dirt.  Then some pebbles and other cute "terrarium bling" finished the project.

Give it a good,  light misting of water, seal it up with the lid, place it in bright but indirect light and watch nature do its thing.

One key, make sure it isn't too wet inside.  We add ice cubes from time to time (without touching the plants of course).

What are you watching? Well, the water cycle in action!  Because the terrarium is sealed, the water you put in is the only water the plants will have to work with.  As the plants live and thrive in the environment, they expel water vapor.  This water vapor is trapped inside the terrarium, will condensate on the sides and the droplets will trickle down into the soil.  Thanks to the pebbles there is good drainage and the activated charcoal will filter the water as it passes through.

Some people have terrariums that last for years.

It's a little bit of wait and see how much water to add or not.  If you add too much the plants will wilt (but you can take the lid off and let it all dry out a bit.

The Portage Lakes Career Center services Manchester, Springfield, Coventry and Green high schools with a variety of career focused programs including Pre-Nursing, Engineering, Robotics and Manufacturing and Enviroscape Technology (which helped with the terrariums).

STEMbassadors, a part of our multi-year, multi-platform initiative called Growing Curiosity | Girls in STEM, is a weekly segment featured Friday at 7PM on WKYC that highlights women and girls doing great things in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).