LET'S GET CARRIED AWAY
In this lesson and its extension activities, the students should
have the opportunity to discover how seeds travel from their parent plants
in search of water, sunlight, and nutrients. The students will conduct experiments
in which they will note characteristics which encourage seed dispersal by
means of wind, water, animal carriers, and pod explosion.
Take A Look #3: Growing Things
Reading Rainbow #1101: The Lotus Seed
Students will be able to:
- describe and give examples of four methods of seed dispersal
- sort seeds by their method(s) of dispersal
- estimate, measure, and compare distances traveled by a variety of
- record and interpret class data
Per pair of students:
- Seed Travel Concept Map
- Blown Away data sheet
- Squirrel Smorgasbord record sheet
- 1 pair of old cotton socks (they need not match)
- hand lenses
Squirrel Smorgasbord Activity:
- 1 packet containing a variety of seeds for sorting activity
Per group of 4-6 students:
Sink or Float Activity:
- 1 packet containing equal numbers of acorns, peanuts, pistachio nuts,
walnuts, and pecans
Blown Away Activity Per Class:
- 1 large bowl water
- 1 packet containing a variety of seeds
- 1 large fan
- 1 tape measure
- a variety of seeds
Engage students in a brief discussion about ways people travel
from place to place. Guide students to include such things as planes, boats,
horses, and, silly as it may seem, being shot out of a cannon. Record a
student-generated list on the chalkboard or a piece of chart paper. Ask
the students to pretend that they are seeds looking for a new home. How
will they travel to their new home? The students should brainstorm methods
in which seeds are dispersed. List student responses on the board for reference
during the viewing segments. Distribute the seed packets and hand lenses.
Students should examine and sort the seeds by method of dispersal.
The focus for viewing is a specific responsibility or task(s)
students are responsible for during or after watching the video to focus
and engage students' viewing attention. The students will view the first
segment to learn three different methods of seed dispersal.
BEGIN the video Take A Look #3: Growing Things
at the title screen where the maple keys are displayed. The verbal cue is
"When a plant has made a seed, it can use many ways to get its seed
from where they were made to where they grow a new plant."
PAUSE after the squirrel plants the acorn. The verbal cue is "...and
that's how a new oak tree might start." Refer students to their predictions
listed on the chalkboard. Modify the list as necessary to include dispersal
by the wind (such as the maple keys, milkweed, and tumbleweed), water (like
the coconut), and animal carriers (such as the burdock attaching to the
animal or the animal transporting the seed for the purposes of storing or
consuming). At this point, the teacher may wish to remind students that
they are animals, too. Ask how people might be seed carriers. In the next
segment, students will learn about seed pod explosions.
REUME and EJECT the video after the verbal cue "The touch-me-not
shoots seeds far from the mother plant." Refer students to their predictions
and modify to include pod explosions as a means of seed dispersal.
BEGIN the video Reading Rainbow #1101: The Lotus Seed where
LeVar Burton says "Here's one of my favorites, the lotus." The
students will view the segment to learn which method of dispersal the lotus
STOP and EJECT the video after the verbal cue "The lotus
can travel almost anywhere in the world and still grow." Discuss the
method of dispersal and possible distance traveled by the lotus seed.
During post-viewing activities, the students will experiment
to reclassify the seeds in their packets into four methods of dispersal.
They will discover that some seeds may utilize more than one method of dispersal.
They should also conclude that visual examination is an inadequate sorting
tool for determining which method(s) of dispersal many seeds employ. Brainstorm
methods of testing a seed's ability to travel by wind, water, animal carrier,
or pod explosion. Each student will complete his/her concept map to demonstrate
knowledge of the four major methods of seed dispersal.
Blown Away In this activity, the students should be looking for characteristics
of seeds that allow for better wind dispersal. Display an assortment of
seeds, some of which are wind-dispersed from plants such as dandelions,
maple trees, sycamore trees, cottonwood trees, tumbleweed, and milkweeds.
Also include seeds which are not dispersed by the wind, such as acorns,
beans, peanuts, peas, and walnuts. Have the students make and record predictions
about which seeds will travel farthest on a windy day. Ask students to select
a seed from the display. Predict and record the estimated distance of travel
by each seed. Place a large fan on a counter, table, or desktop and turn
it on high.
Have each student drop their seed from a position above the air current
generated by the fan. Using a tape measure, assist students in measuring
the distance each seed traveled from the drop point to the landing site.
The students should record the distances. The students should conclude that
light-weight, feather-like characteristics will increase flotation time
and allow a wind-blown seed to travel much farther.
Sink or Float In this activity, the students should discover that
some seeds are dispersed by floating on water. Distribute 1 large bowl of
water and 1 teacher-collected seed packet to each group. Have the students
examine, describe, and record their predictions about whether each seed
will sink or float. Ask the students to gently place the seeds into the
bowls. Record which seeds sank instantly and which floated without sinking.
Ask students to observe the seeds that never sank. What characteristics
caused them to float? The students should conclude that waxy coatings, feathery
hairs and light-weight projections, such as wings, allow the seeds to float.
The teacher should guide the students to discover how seed flotation is
also caused by air bladders within the seeds.
Squirrel Smorgasbord In this activity, the students should discover
that some hungry animals serve as seed dispersal agents. Squirrels often
bury nuts for later use and then forget to retrieve them. This not only
disperses the seed, but provides for later germination. In this activity,
the students should discover which nuts squirrels prefer. Distribute packets
containing equal numbers of acorns, peanuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts, and
pecans to each group of students.
Write to a seed catalog company to learn how seeds are gathered,
stored, and distributed for commercial use.
Invite a local farmer to the classroom to speak about the use of mechanical
devices or equipment employed to plant, harvest, store, and transport seeds.
Write to the Agriculture Education Field Advisor in your area to request
information pertaining to the most commonly planted seeds in your area.
Invite a local representative for a company specializing in chemicals used
by food producers to speak about the way chemicals can enhance or inhibit
seed germination, and the toxicity of such chemicals.
Contact a local craft guild and invite an artist to demonstrate how he/she
uses seeds in one of their creations.
Art: Have the students use a variety of seeds to make mosaics.
Art, Language Arts, and Science: Paint gumballs from sweet gum trees. Add
eight pipe cleaner legs and an appropriate number of eyes to make a gumball
spider. The students will need to do some research to determine the colors
and number of eyes to be used on their creation. Ask each child to write
a paragraph about their spider's habitat, diet, etc.
Art and Language Arts: Have the students design a seed packet for a new
seed company. Ask the students to write an advertisement for their product.
Art and Science: Have the students match fruit and vegetable seeds with
their parent plant to determine whether there is a correlation between the
size of the seed and the size of the host. Ask the students to design and
decorate a vase on a sheet of watercolor or other heavy art stock. Add stems
and leaves to the vase. Use the sliced fruits and vegetables from above
as flowers. Dip the fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors of tempera
or acrylic paints and print them on the paper.
Art and Language Arts: Have the students pretend that they are seeds on
a journey. Create and send postcards to classmates detailing the sites and
adventures of your trip.
Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies: Read or view "The Lotus Seed"
for the class. Distribute world maps and ask the students to chart the journey
of Grandmother's lotus seed. Using calculators and the map's scale, approximate
the distance that the seed traveled.
Math: Ask the students to bring in old seed catalogs or write and request
new ones. Give each student a "shopping list" and a calculator.
Ask them to find and record the price of each seed on their list. Use the
calculator to compute the exact cost of their purchase.
Science: Have each student wear a pair of old cotton socks over their own
shoes. Go for a nature hike through a field with low, dry plants. Return
to the classroom. Remove the socks. Examine the seeds clinging to them.
Shake the socks vigorously to see which seeds fall off first. Record the
results. Gather the seeds and grow your own "Prickly Park." Record
the length and dates of each seed's germination.
NOTE TO TEACHER
The type of nuts selected for this activity may be altered due to availability
of nuts in your area. Have each group of students place their nuts in a
location that is accessible to squirrels. Tell the students to record the
number of nuts they placed outside on their "Squirrel Smorgasbord"
record sheet. Ask students to record their predictions about which nuts
will be carried off first and which will be carried off last. Leave the
nuts outside for several days and have students periodically count the remaining
nuts. The students should record their findings on the record sheets. Have
students compare their results with their predictions.
Master Teachers: Kathleen Shannon, Valerie Lyle
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online