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Apple Rotting Experiment Decomposing Lesson Plan for Elementary

In this fun and educational apple rotting experiment, students will explore the process of organic decomposition and learn why apples, like all other organic matter, eventually breaks down into soil. This hands-on life science activity is a perfect addition to any apple STEM activities that your class is doing this year.

Get ready to lead your students for a hands-on adventure filled with scientific discoveries, critical analysis, the basics of the apple life cycle, and the role of decomposing in how earth’s systems work.

Dive into this exciting lesson plan for the apple rotting experiment! Discover the wonders of how apples break down and the vital role rotting plays in a plant's journey!

This decomposing science experiment reveals the decomposition processes that lead to changes, from mold growth, to color changes, to strange odors.

Don’t worry; it’s not as bad as your student’s might think!

In fact, it’s an interesting way to learn more about the important role of corruption in the cycle of life.

Decoding Nature’s Secrets with the Apple Rotting Experiment

By observing changes in apples under different conditions, children can unravel the mystery of decay and understand why organic materials like apples undergo interesting changes.

Apple-Themed Shirts and Accessories

If you love to celebrate a theme as much as I do, you’ll love these apple-themed shirts and accessories!

apple teacher shirt

Mini Apple Customizable Teacher Shirt

barbie apple shirt

Barbie Style Apple Teacher Shirt

classy apple earrings

Metal Apple Earrings

teachers change the world water cup

Customizable Apple Teacher Tumbler

flower apple tote

Flower Apple Tote Bag

apple heart shirt

Apple Heart Shirt

big apple earrings

Transparent Apple Earrings

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Apple Word Cloud Tote for Teachers

Why Apples Rot: A Decomposing Science Lesson

Apples, like all organic matter, begin to decompose after they are harvested. This decomposition is primarily due to microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi.

When bacteria and fungi land on an apple’s surface, they feed on the apple’s sugars and other nutrients.

As these microorganisms grow and multiply, they produce enzymes that break down the apple’s cells. This process causes the apple to become soft and discolored.

Get ready for a thrilling exploration with our apple decomposition lesson! Unravel the mysteries of why apples rot and the significance of this natural process in a plant's life.

External factors, like warmth and humidity, can speed up the rotting process.

The rotting of apples is a natural part of their life cycle, turning them back into nutrients for the earth.

Here’s how to help your students enter the world of rotten apples and decomposers and embark on an extraordinary quest to unlock the science of spoilage.

What You Need to Do the Decomposing Apple Experiment

Here are a few supplies that are necessary to complete the apple rotting science experiment!

First of all, you will need fresh apples, which you can get from any local grocery store.

You can also grab this free apple life cycle worksheet to complete along with the apple rotting experiment.

apple life cycle worksheet

In addition to that, you will also need:

Apple Books for Kids

Here are some colorful books children will enjoy reading to learn more about apples!

apple life book

An Apple’s Life Book

apple trees book

Apple Trees Book

apples for everyone book

Apples for Everyone Book

apples book

Apples Book

blossom to apple book

Blossom to Apple Book

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Let’s Go to the Apple Orchard Book

STEM Extensions for the Decomposing Apple Lesson

Here are some additional STEM extensions you can add to your apple rotting experiment!

Documenting the Decay (Science)

  • Have students keep a daily journal or chart documenting the changes they observe in the apple.
  • They can draw the apple each day or take pictures.
  • Measure and record the weight of the apple over time.
  • Track and graph the changes in color, texture, and size.

Mold Growth (Science)

  • Students can predict which parts of the apple will mold first.
  • Observe mold growth under a microscope or magnifying glass.
  • Discuss the types and roles of microorganisms in decomposition.
apple decomposition lesson plan that answers the question why apples turn brown! Explore why apples rot and celebrate the importance of this stage in the bigger picture of plant life.

Environmental Factors (Science)

  • Place apples in different environments (e.g., one in the fridge, one in a sealed plastic bag, one in open air) and compare the rate of decay.
  • Discuss how temperature, air, and moisture can affect the rotting process.

pH Levels (Science)

  • Test the pH level of the rotting apple over time.
  • Discuss how the rotting process might affect the acidity of the apple.

Digital Documentation (Technology)

  • Use tablets or digital cameras to take daily photos or time-lapse videos. Compile the images or videos into a presentation or slideshow.

Math Connections (Mathematics)

  • Measure the apple’s circumference and weight daily, plotting the changes on a graph.
  • Predict when the apple will reach a certain level of decomposition using the data.

Apple Life Cycle (Science)

  • Discuss the entire life cycle of an apple, from seed to tree to fruit to decomposition.
  • Plant apple seeds and track their growth alongside the rotting apple, emphasizing the cycle of life and decay.
apple life cycle worksheet

Discuss Preservation Methods (Science/Technology)

  • Explore ways in which food is preserved (e.g., canning, freezing, drying).
  • Experiment by drying, canning, and freezing slices of apple and comparing the decomposition rate to fresh apple slices.

Apple-Themed Decorations

Here are some fun apple-themed decorations you can use to decorate your classroom or home when playing apple games or just for some fall flair!

apple treat containers

Apple Treat Containers

apple tissue decoration

Tissue Paper Apples

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Apple Mini Erasers

apple balloon

Happy Apple Balloon

apple party classroom kit

Apple Party Kit

More Apple STEM Activities

If you need more apple science lessons, check out these other apple themed science experiments!

What Skills Will Students Develop with the Apple Rotting Experiment?

The apple rotting experiment offers multiple ways for elementary students to develop critical thinking skills- through forming hypotheses, predicting experiment outcomes, and analyzing experiment results.

Apple-Themed Teaching Resources

Apples and teaching go hand-in-hand!

Add these fun apple-themed teaching supplies to your classroom (or your house, if you just love apples that much!).

apple timer

Apple Teacher Timer

apple pencil erasers

Apple Pencil Sharpeners

apple scented teacher stickers

Apple Scented Stickers

apple progress pad

Apple Progress Pad

apple silly stickers

Silly Apple Teacher Stickers

attribute apples

Attribute Apples

apple fractions

Apple Fractions

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Count and Sort Apples

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Apple Math Tree

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Felt Board Parts of an Apple

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Squishy Apples

Students will also gain valuable insight into the scientific fields of biology and microbiology.

Through their observation of mold proliferation, bacteria growth, and how these systems reproduce, students will begin to understand why the breakdown of organic matter is important for ecosystems and the survival of plants and animals.

apple life cycle worksheet

Working together in groups will also help children learn how to work within a specific roll while also following the goals of the entire group.

Apple Decomposers STEM Lesson Plan

You can find the complete no-prep lesson plan for this apple rotting experiment below!

Enter your email to unlock the printable lesson that you can use in your classroom right away!

How to Do the Apple Rotting Experiment

How to Do the Apple Rotting Experiment

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 46 minutes
Difficulty: easy

Follow along with this lesson plan for the apple rotting experiment learning how apples decompose and why rotting is an important part of a plant's life cycle.


  • Apples (same variety and size)
  • Clear containers or jars (6 for each student/group)
  • Water, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon-lime soda, and a control (dry air)
  • Labels for containers
  • STEM worksheets
  • STEM journal for recording data
  • Chart or graph paper for data representation


  • Knives safe for kids (1 per group)
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Rulers (1 per group)


Here is a simple lesson plan you can use to go along with the apple rotting experiment.

Lesson Objective

Students will investigate how different liquids affect the rate of apple rotting over a period of three weeks.

They will learn to make observations, record data, and draw conclusions from their experiments.

Week 1: Setting Up the Experiment

Introduction (15 minutes)

Discuss the concept of rotting and the factors that might affect how quickly it happens.

Introduce the experiment: observing how different liquids impact apple rotting.

Show the liquids and explain the importance of the control (dry air).

Hypotheses (15 minutes)

Discuss what a hypothesis is and have students predict which liquid they think will cause the apple to rot the fastest.

Setting Up (20 minutes)

Divide students into groups and provide each group with five clear containers labeled for each liquid and the control. rotting apple experiment supplies 2 scaled

Slice your apple into as many pieces as you need, for our purposes, we chose to experiment with 6 different scenarios- nothing, tap water, salt water, apple cider vinegar, lemon-lime soda, and lemon juice.

Create labels for each of your different liquid solutions. Place a label on each container to keep track of which is which.

Place an apple slice in each of your containers.
2 scaled

Pour the liquid to completely cover the apple slice, we kept one without any liquid as a control so that we could see how rapidly it decayed with just air.

To create salt water we just warmed up a little water and dissolved a ½ teaspoon of salt into it.

Now over the next few weeks, track and document how your apples look in your science log and STEM worksheet.
apple experiment 24 hours 1 scaled

Week 2- Observations

Observations (15 minutes)

Have students carefully observe the apples and record their findings in their journals.

Encourage students to describe changes in color, texture, and any mold growth.
Rotting apple experiment 72 hours 2 scaled

Data Recording (15 minutes)

Guide students in measuring and recording the apple's size (diameter or circumference) using rulers or measuring tapes.

Discuss the importance of precise measurements for accurate data.

Week 3- Experiment Conclusion

Observations (15 minutes)

Repeat the observation process from Week 2, this time emphasizing any significant changes since the first observation.
Rotting apple experiment 72 hours 2 scaled

Data Recording and Analysis (20 minutes)

Assist students in comparing the measurements from week two and week three.

Have them organize their data and draw conclusions about which liquid had the most impact on apple rotting.

Discussion and Conclusion (15 minutes)

Gather the class to discuss their findings.

Were the hypotheses' correct? What factors might have influenced the results?

STEM Extensions

Have students research why certain liquids might have affected the apples differently.

Ask students to create graphs or charts to visually represent their data.

Discuss broader concepts, such as the preservation of food and the role of acids in decay.

Lesson Assessment

Participation in setting up the experiment and making observations.

Accurate and thorough data recording in journals.

Thoughtful participation in the class discussion and conclusion.

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