Knowledge was “blooming” this week as students investigated the plant world. Students learned that animals, and us, are mainly alive because of plants; they provide us with food and oxygen. The young scientists also learned how plants, also considered autotrophs (self-nourishing or self-feeding), create food using photosynthesis. Using carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight, they create sugar (food) and release oxygen. Students were surprised when they learned that plants can also USE oxygen to break down the sugars they created in less favorable conditions (such as low sunlight, low water, or low carbon dioxide). Students were also surprised to learn that plants can affect weather by “sweating” water through pores found on the leaves called stomata.
Do you remember how deforestation (cutting down trees) impacts not only the environment, but also the climate?!
Just before we put our plastic “scalpels” to the test, we learned about the evolution of plants. We traveled through time and learned how plants reproduced and what advantages they acquired over time. We started with plants such as mosses, which go through asexual reproduction (or “cloning”) and non-vascular plants, such as ferns, which uses spores, all the way to plants who actually use seeds to reproduce, whether the seeds are “naked”, such as with conifers (pine cones) or “true seeds”, found in flowering plants. Scientists use these characteristics to separate plants into different groups. We mainly focused on angiosperms today, or flowering plants!
We ended our class with a fun flower dissection – what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day?! During the dissection, students worked on identifying and determining the function of the specialized structures of the flower. We worked through drawing and labeling all the structures we can find on all different flowers. Which flower was the easiest to identify?
Don’t be surprised if your budding scientist asks to dissect the next bouquet of flowers that enters your house!