Monday, August 29, 2011

Science: Learning about Plants, lesson 7.3: Pollination

We had fun learning about pollination!  By the time we "officially" did the lesson, we had come across pollination already in our reading, so Connor was pretty much able to explain the basics.  We read more details in  The Life Cycle of a Flower by Bobbie Kalman and learned about wind- and self-pollinated plants in addition to insect/animal pollination.  Then we got to the fun part!

We "acted out" pollination using cornmeal, pompoms, and other tidbits.  First we bent the ends of green pipe cleaners (cut in half) to make pistils and added tape sticky-side up on the top to make sticky stigmas.  Then we dipped q-tips in cornmeal for pollen-covered stamens.  Each of the boys chose a dark-colored pompom for his "insect" and brushed it up against the q-tip like a real bee or butterfly would brush against a real flower, observing the "pollen" transfer.  Then they flew their insects to a pistil (imagining it was in another flower) and brushed against its sticky stigma and noticed how the cornmeal stuck to it.  They had fun and wanted to try it several times!

(The medicine cup held the cornmeal.  It was the perfect size--deep enough to dip the q-tips in, but small enough that we didn't waste lots of cornmeal.)

The next part of the activity demonstrated wind pollination.  First we used a glue stick to create a sticky spot (maybe 2-3 inches in diameter?) on a small piece of black paper.  Then each of the boys got his own q-tip and dipped it in the cornmeal to make a pollen-covered stamen.  They held the q-tip carefully over the paper and blew on it gently to imitate wind blowing on a flower.  The "pollen" stuck to the paper, letting them see that it blew off and demonstrating how the wind blows pollen around and carry it to another flower.

We also made notebook pages that included some of the pictures of our project as well as narrations from each of them about pollination.

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