Lesson 1 What Is A Plant

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Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and MathNew PlantsConceptsWhat is a plant?What are the criteria forlife?How do we select andfind evidence for ourdecisions?HCPS III BenchmarksSC.2.1.1SC.2.4.1Duration1 (45 min.) periodSource ot alivedeadpredictexperimentLesson 1: What is a Plant?SummaryThis discussion and activity serves as an introduction for the unit.Students will be introduced to some organisms that they may or maynot be able to identify as plants. The discussion centers on whatdefines a plant, whether plants and parts of plants are alive, and howwe know. This leads into the question of how we can get new plantsfrom old ones.Objectives Students will be able to communicate ideas about what“counts” as a plant.Student will demonstrate their prior knowledge of plants.Students will begin thinking about plants as a diverse groupof organisms.Students will discuss what “counts” as being alive.MaterialsBlank paper (one per child)CrayonsA variety of plants, cuttings, and seeds. Some suggestions can befound in ‘Resources’ section.Carrot or beetSweet potatodead plantbroken branchFake flower/plantInsect or class pet dead or aliveGlass jars of seedsAlgae Water or limu (seaweed)Prepared chart papers (see teacher prep) and pens1 Homework sheet-What is a Plant?Making ConnectionsStudents will have some well-developed ideas about plants, and what“counts” as a plant. Most will use the presence of leaves, green parts,roots, or flowers as “evidence” that they are looking at a plant. Mostchildren in Hawaii will have some connection to plants thanks to theshade they provide, leis they have made or worn, and our richagricultural heritage. Although they are probably aware that plantscan die, they may not really be ready to believe that they areorganisms—living things--in the same way that animals areorganisms.What is a Plant?1

Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and MathTeacher Prep for Activity1. Conduct Unit Pre-Assessment (described under Assessment, below).2. Start Algae jar: Several weeks before the activity, set a glass jar of (preferably untreated)water on a windowsill. Cover with a paper towel (not plastic wrap) and a rubber band tokeep out mosquitoes. Algae—Earth’s most ancient plants--will begin to grow in the jar.(Limu is also a kind of algae—you can pick some up off the beach, or at the poke counterat the grocery store).3. Decide on whether you’d like students to work in groups or as a class. This lesson planwill treat the class as one group.4. Gather plants or cuttings of plants that represent a diverse array of forms. Providing bothwhole plants and cuttings (pieces) of plants will help stimulate discussions about whethereach is alive. Also include a fake flower or leaf.5. Gather an array of seeds of different sizes (remember, a coconut is a seed!) and forms(winged, tufted, hard, fleshy, etc). If you have students in groups, be sure to get enoughto let each group have several of each kind.6. Place small seeds in glass jars with lids, so they can be observed without being lost.7. You will need 4 charts for this activity, plus a word bank (ongoing list of vocabularywords) and a summary chart. If possible, arrange your 4 charts in a circle on the wall (itmight be easier to do this as you finish writing on each chart). Each chart will end upwith a record of a different step of the scientific method on it, and we really want toemphasize that the scientific method is a cyclical process—there is no correct start or end.Chart Headings:1. (Is it a) Plant? Alive? How do we know?2. How can we find out?3. I predict that 4. What we can learn: (If then )5. Summary: We know we are looking at a plant if ./Weknow something is alive if BackgroundThis is a discussion-based activity that revolves around three questions: Is it a plant? Is it alive?And how do you know? The idea is to gather information about student’s prior knowledge ormisconceptions about plants, and to encourage them to generate ideas about how to test whethertheir ideas are right or not. The point is not to enforce a particular, rigid definition of “plant” or“alive” at this time, but to map out the process scientists use to make these decisions. One ideahas been provided for mapping out this process on charts—but you certainly may come up withyour own way of organizing and displaying these ideas.One important job of a scientist is to classify organisms into logical categories. Classificationsystems simplify the task of recording and remembering lots of information, and help illuminatepatterns in processes and functions in the natural world. For instance, the discovery ofphotosynthesis was almost certainly helped along by the understanding that plants are differentfrom animals, even from those animals that are green. Imagine a space alien researcher trying tounderstand how a school functions: If he/she first correctly classifies students and teachers intodifferent groups, each with a different function, he/she will be heading in the right direction.What is a Plant?2

Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and MathWhile the process of sorting seems very simple, there are almost always gray areas, or discrepantevents, that throw any classification scheme into question. The platypus is a perfect example. Ithas fur, and warm blood, like a mammal, but it has venom, like a reptile or insect, and lays eggsand has a duck-bill, like a bird. Similarly, a classification rule that says an organism with leavesis a plant, may need to be changed the first time a cactus is encountered. And how do youdetermine whether something like a seed is alive at the moment it is encountered?Classifying objects requires us to ask the most fundamental of scientific questions: “Is this a?” And if it is a scientific question, one can use the scientific method to answer it. Inschool, most students learn the five-step, linear version of the scientific method:1. Question2. Prediction (Hypothesis)3. Experiment4. Observation5. ConclusionWhile this was fine for doing a science report, much of the scientific community has agreed thatit gives students and the general public false ideas about science as an absolute and strictlyanalytical process. Scientific research rarely follows these steps in order, and almost alwaysmakes several passes through the entire process backwards and forwards, before getting to auseful conclusion. Further, many steps are left out, particularly social input, ethics, inspiration,and reflection.The true nature of science is cyclical, in that science should always be heuristic: one conclusionshould lead naturally to another set of related questions. There is no “right” path through themultitude of steps; as luck, timing, creativity, and inspiration are critical components of allscientific discovery, great or small. This lesson outlines the scientific method as you classifysome plant-related items into groups. You will record the traditional steps on chart paper toidentify these steps, but will hopefully show your students that the route through the stepsmeanders, and returns to the start.Procedure1. Gather at the rug. Start with a typical plant. A typical plant to a second grader has leaves,a stem or trunk, branches, roots, may or may not have flowers or fruits, and is rooted intosoil.2. Ask the students to describe it using their senses—what is it? Is it alive? How do youknow? What does it feel like? Does it move? Etc.3. Fill in Chart 1, Line 1: Plant’s name, yes/no, yes/no. (Students will most likely agreethat it is a plant and that it is alive). How do they know it is a plant? How did theydecide?What is a Plant?3

Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and MathSample Chart 1: Observations and Questions(note: these are examples of possible answers from students: not meant to becorrect noyesseednonoHow do we know?Green leaves, flowers, wet dirt, leaves are softNo leaves, no dirt--plants need dirt to liveI grew a carrot plant from a carrot top in kindergarten.If my carrot top grew, then it was alive, so this one is too.not a plant yet. all dried up, it will come alive after you waterit4. Add evidence to the chart under the heading “How we know it’s a plant.” Evidencemight include: being green, having leaves, stem, flowers. Weak evidence might includebeing tall and thin. Include even wildly incorrect ideas, to be corrected as you go.5. Add evidence for the plant being alive. Students may have a hard time articulating whythey think this obviously living thing is alive. “It looks alive” is a typical answer. Otherevidence might be: It’s green, it’s not brittle, it’s growing (how do they know this?), itlooks pretty, it moves in the wind. These may not be the scientific criteria for life, butthey are valid second grade criteria.6. Repeat with less “typical” plants, such as a grass, cactus, jade plant, plastic or silkflowers, pictures of plants, algae jar, or limu from the ocean.7. Add to, or challenge the evidence in the “how we know” list.8. Pass around the seeds. What are these? Are they plants? Are they alive? While youmay know that a seed contains all the necessary material to develop into a whole plant,the students may not. They may decide that it is only part of a plant. Can part of a plantbe alive? Write “not sure” or “part of a plant,” if the students can’t decide.9. What about cuttings, potatoes, or beet tops? These can all grow into whole plants, but dothe students know that or consider them plants now?10. Place show & tell plants in groups: living plants, dead ones, living or dead plant parts,fake plants, not sure. Tell the students that they have created a way to “classify” theobjects: an important job of a plant scientist.11. Discuss ways to make sure the items in each category are correctly classified. How canwe decide which category the “not sure” items should be in? How can we find out if aseed is alive?12. List ideas for experiments on Chart 2 (“Plant the seeds and wait to see if they grow”),Sample Chart 2: ExperimentsHow can we find out if a seed is alive?if a carrot is a plant?What parts a plant needs?Plant it and wait for it to growCut it open and see what's insideMake a list of all the parts a plant needs,and see if it has them.Try to grow it into a plantLook it up on the internetLook it up on the internetTry to grow it without leaves or rootsWhat is a Plant?4

Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and Math13. Predict what the outcome(s) might be. Write their predictions on Chart 3 [“they willgrow” or “they won’t grow” or “some will grow” ].Sample Chart 3: PredictionsI predict that if we plant the seeds They will growThey won't growSome will grow, but not allIt will dieIt will grow back new leavesIt will dieIf we take the leaves off the marigoldIf we take the roots off the marigold14. State conclusions that can be drawn, if predictions come true. Record on Chart 4. This isa really key step, since it’s often hard for students to remember to go back to theiroriginal question and think about whether they’ve got the answer. [“We will know thatthe seeds were alive after all” or “we will know that the seeds were dead”]. Make somesilly, irrelevant conclusions here [If the seed grows, then we know Professor Sprout cameinto the room and cast a magic spell], to show what a realistic conclusion is.Sample Chart 4: ConclusionsIf if the seeds grow into plants, then If the marigold dies without leaves, then If the marigold dies w/o roots, then If the carrot grows, without leaves or roots then we know that they were alivethey were plants.plants need leaves to liveplants need roots to liveMaybe some plants don't need roots or leavesMaybe plants can live for a little whilewithout roots or leavesMaybe carrots have magical powers15. Make up more questions! Drawing a conclusion is not the last step in the ScientificMethod! It’s a cycle, so try to bring the students’ thought process back to the“beginning” again, with more questions. Follow up questions could include: if seedsdon’t grow, we decided they were dead Does that mean they aren’t plants? Are seedsplants? How could we answer that question? [we could get more seeds of the same kind,and if some of them grow, maybe they are plants, even though our first ones were dead].16. Summarize the student’s “evidence” for life, and for being a plant, on a Chart 5—use allthe criteria the students decide to keep: they can decide through experiments during theunit what they will keep on or cross off the list. “We know something is a plant if ” and“We know a plant is alive if ”What is a Plant?5

Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and MathChart 5: Summary “How we know”We know something is a plant if It has leavesIt has sapIt has rootsIt has flowersIt grows in the ground It is part of a plant that can grow biggerIt came from a plantWe know a plant is alive if We plant it and it growsIf we break it and sap comes outIt is growingIt looks green and healthyIts flowers are bright and not dried upIt’s not dried up 17. Keep the Summary (Chart 5) around for the whole unit, looking for opportunities to addto or challenge the items on the list. Hang the other charts in a circle on the wall, so theyare arranged as a cycle, not a line 1-4. Add arrows showing how the cycle keeps goingaround.18. Homework sheet: At home, the students find 3 items around the house or yard that mightbe plants. Students write down what they found, how they know what it is, and whetherthey think it is alive. Encourage students to bring in items they find that might be tricky.(Be sure to mention plant safety concerns such poisonous or prickly plants, not collectingin someone else’s yard, etc).AssessmentsLesson Assessment: Students should be able to fill out the alive/not alive homework sheet ontheir own, based on items provided by the teacher, or found in the school/home yard.ResourcesWhat plants to choose? Here are some suggestions by theme Native plant theme: Ohia (extremely tiny seeds) Koa Naupaka Native hibiscus Kupukupu or hapuu (ferns) Uki uki, pili, or other native sedge/grass HalaCanoe Plant theme: Coconut (world’s largest seed) taro sweet potato breadfruit sugar cane mountain appleWhat is a Plant?6

Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and Math“First Hawaiian Lu au” (a collection of edible plants that the first Polynesian settlers found whenthey arrived in Hawai i) aweoweo ho io or watabi (fern shoots) hapu u (the starchy corm—hard to show and tell) limu ohelo and akala berriesPeculiar Plants: Venus fly trap (carnivorous, and it moves) Sleeping grass (aka sensitive grass/mimosa—also moves) Pitcher plant (carnivorous) Jade plant (can grow from just a leaf) Miconia or macaranga (enormous leaves, extremely invasive) Corn. (Corn?! What’s so weird about corn? It’s one of the only plants whose seedscome out of a very different part of the plant then the flowers. Peanuts (how does a bee-pollinated seed grow under the ground?) Limu Algae (this is what the jar of water is for) Cactus MossBackground Information taken from the FOSS New Plants Kit and Cuddihy and Stone.Extension ActivitiesDo the experiments: Students will want to try the experiments they proposed, so be prepared! Asmall tray of potting soil or vermiculite, and a glass jar of water should suffice to test seeds andcuttings by planting them.Field Trip: One exciting way to kick off a plant unit is to visit a place where plants have gonethrough a major disturbance. If you are able to get to a lava flow area where there are few or noplants yet growing, or a fire burn scar, or even a recently flood-scoured stream bed, what a greatway to stimulate ideas about the need for plants to reproduce! Students can search for seedsalong the surface of the scar, and begin to think about how they got there, whether they can growin the spot they landed, and if the place is close enough to school, consider marking andmonitoring their development month by month.Art ConnectionAsk students to draw a plant from memory then have them observe a plant closely and draw it.Discuss in small groups what they noticed the second time. Label parts on their plants. Did theyhave more things to label in the second? That’s the beauty of making and recording carefulobservations!What is a Plant?7

Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and MathMath ConnectionPattern recognition, measurement, and comparing numbers will be easy to integrate with mostlessons. Start looking for opportunities to fit your lessons into the science period. Since thisunit is pretty time consuming, double-dipping will help you keep on top of all standard contentareas.Lay out the leaves you collected for the show and tell discussion or on a student walk. Also layout geometrical shapes (blocks, cut-outs, whatever you have on hand). As a group, search forgeometric shapes in the leaves. Find lines of symmetry in the leaves. Classify them by shapeand symmetry. How many groups? How many in each group? Check out the book “EatingFractions!” by Bruce McMillan, then try making leaf and seed fractions.Literature ConnectionLiterature: Any book that reflects the excitement and wonder of growing plants is a greatsupplement at this point.Some suggestions:Pumpkin Day, by Nancy Elizabeth WallaceThe Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Crockett JohnsonWhat is a Plant?8

Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and MathName:Date:Homework: What is a Plant?Go outside and look for something that you think could be a plant, or part of a plant. Lookaround. Try to figure out what it is and where it came from. Is it a seed from a tree nearby? Is itan unusual tree, or one of many small bushes? Then fill in the worksheet. If you can findsomething really tricky, bring it to class to share with us!1. I found a: .I can tell that’s what it is because:.I noticed:.I think it is alive or not alive because:.2. I found a: .I can tell that’s what it is because:.I noticed:.I think it is alive or not alive because:.3. I found a: .I can tell that’s what it is because:.I noticed:.I think it is alive or not alive because:.What is a Plant?9

This discussion and activity serves as an introduction for the unit. Students will be introduced to some organisms that they may or may not be able to identify as plants. The discussion centers on what defines a plant, whether plants and parts of plants are alive, and how we know. This leads into the question of how we can get new plants

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