P o la r P l an t s
Hi ghlights From Issue 12 (March 2009) White Cotton-grass. Photo courtesy of Kim Hansen,Wikimedia Commons.
Table of Contents
Polar Plants, Issue 12 (March 2009) Science Content Knowledge
Plants of the Arctic and Antarctic
By Jessica Fries-Gaither
Literacy Content Knowledge
Organizing Research Reports
By Tracey Allen and Clarissa Reeson
By Stephen Whitt
Common Misconceptions About Plants
By Jessica Fries-Gaither
Across the Curriculum: Lessons and Activities
Pressing Plants: Connecting Science, Art, and the Natural World
By Jessica Fries-Gaither
Science & Literacy: Lessons and Activities
Hands-on Lessons and Activites About Plants
By Jessica Fries-Gaither
Off the Bookshelf
Polar Plants: Virtual Bookshelf
By Kate Hastings
Copyright May 2010. Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is produced by an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University (OSU), College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center (ORC) for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL); and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Content in this document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Printed version layout and design by Margaux Baldridge, Office of Technology and Enhanced Learning, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Science Content Knowledge Plants of the Arctic and Antarctic By Jessica Fries-Gaither When we think of the word "plants" we typically picture trees, bushes, grasses, and ferns - so-called "vascular plants" because of their full systems of leaves, stems, and roots. However, the plant kingdom also includes mosses, liverworts, and hornworts, simpler plants that lack these water-transporting structures. A defining characteristic of plants is their ability to produce energy through photosynthesis. Through this process, plants capture the sun's energy and use it to fuel chemical reactions that convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and energycontaining carbohydrates (sucrose, glucose, or starch). Plants may reproduce sexually by flowering and producing seeds, or through spore production. They also reproduce asexually through budding, bulb formation, and other types of vegetative reproduction. Even though most algae and fungi are no longer classified within the plant kingdom, they
are often still included in discussions of plant life. Algae include microscopic, singlecelled, and multicellular photosynthetic organisms such as seaweeds and green, red, and brown algae. They lack the structures that characterize vascular and nonvascular plants and are classified in the kingdom Protista. Fungi do not produce energy through photosynthesis but instead obtain food by breaking down and absorbing surrounding materials. While previously classified with plants, fungi are now considered more similar to animals and are in a kingdom of their own. Many fungi reproduce with fruiting bodies, a spore-bearing structure produced above soil or a food source. Mushrooms are a well-known example of fruiting bodies.
Moss on the Path. Photo courtesy of Andrew Fogg, Flickr.
Lichens are a third group that, while often included in discussions of plants, is not classified in the plant kingdom. Lichens are a symbiotic association of a fungus and an alga. The fungus provides water and minerals from the growing surface, while the alga produces energy for both organisms through photosynthesis. Lichens compete with plants for sunlight, but their small size and slow growth allow them to thrive in places where plants have difficulty surviving. Despite cold temperatures, permafrost, and short growing seasons, vascular and nonvascular plants, algae, fungi, and lichens are found in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Learn more about these hardy species and the adaptations that enable them to survive in such harsh environments. 3
Science Content Knowledge ARCTIC PLANTS Approximately 1,700 species of plants live on the Arctic tundra, including flowering plants, dwarf shrubs, herbs, grasses, mosses, and lichens. The tundra is characterized by permafrost, a layer of soil and partially decomposed organic matter that is frozen year-round. Only a thin layer of soil, called the active layer, thaws and refreezes each year. This makes shallow root systems a necessity and prevents larger plants such as trees from growing in the Arctic. (The cold climate and short growing season also prevent tree growth. Trees need a certain amount of days above 50 degrees F, 10 degrees C, to complete their annual growth cycle.) Tundra vegetation is characterized by small plants (typically only centimeters tall) growing close together and close to the ground. A few of the many species include: Top to bottom: Arctic Willow. Photo courtesy of Kim Hansen, Wikimedia Commons. Pasque Flower. Photo courtesy of lizjones112, Flickr. Bearberry. Photo courtesy of Veli Pohjonen, Wikimedia Commons. Purple Saxifrage. Photo courtesy of Val Vannet, Wikimedia Commons. Arctic Poppy. Photo courtesy of Kim Hansen, Wikimedia Commons. Cottongrass. Photo courtesy of Jorg Hempel, Wikimedia Commons.
Arctic Willow A dwarf shrub that is food for caribou, musk oxen, and arctic hares. The Inuit people call it the â€œtongue plantâ€? because of the shape of its leaves.
Pasque Flower This plant ranges throughout the northwestern United States and up to northern Alaska. Its covering of fine silky hairs provides insulation.
Bearberry This low-growing evergreen's leathery leaves and silky hairs provide protection from the cold and wind. The plant was named bearberry because bears like to eat its red berries. Purple Saxifrage This plant grows in a low, tight clump. It is one of the earliest plants to bloom. The tiny, purple, star-shaped flowers (1 cm wide) often can be seen above the melting snow. Arctic Poppy This plant is about 10-15 cm tall, with a single flower per stem. The flower heads follow the sun, and the cup-shaped petals help absorb solar energy. Cottongrass Named for its fluffy, white tufts, cottongrass is an important food source for migrating snow geese and caribou.
Science Content Knowledge
Snow, Rock, Lichen 1. Photo courtesy of CTD, Flickr.
Lichen. Photo courtesy of madpai, Flickr.
Lichens grow in mats on the ground and on rocks across the Arctic. Lichens provide an important food source for caribou in the winter.
ADAPTATIONS FOR A POLAR ENVIRONMENT Similar adaptations help plants, algae, fungi, and lichens survive in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
ANTARCTIC PLANTS There are only two native vascular plants in Antarctica: Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort. These species are found in small clumps near the shore of the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, where temperatures are milder and there is more precipitation.
First, the size of plants and their structures make survival possible. Small plants and shallow root systems compensate for the thin layer of soil, and small leaves minimize the amount of water lost through the leaf surface.
There are approximately 300 types of moss found in colonies, over 300 nonmarine algae species, and approximately 150 species of lichens. Lichens can tolerate very cold temperatures, and thus can live where true plants cannot. Lack of water, not cold temperatures, is the largest concern, and lichens deal with this problem by living in cracks between rocks.
Plants also grow close to the ground and to each other, a strategy that helps to resist the effects of cold weather and reduce damage caused by wind-blown snow and ice particles. Fuzzy coverings on stems, leaves, and buds and woolly seed covers provide additional protection from the wind. Plants have also adapted to the long winters and short, intense polar summers. Many Arctic species can grow under a layer of snow, and virtually all polar
Antarctic Hair Grass. Photo courtesy of Lomvi2, Wikimedia Commons.
plants are able to photosynthesize in extremely cold temperatures. During the short polar summer, plants use the long hours of sunlight to quickly develop and produce flowers and seeds. Flowers of some plants are cup-shaped and direct the sun's rays toward the center of the flower. Darkcolored plants absorb more of the sun's energy. In addition, many species are perennials, growing and blooming during the summer, dying back in the winter, and returning the following spring from their root-stock. This allows the plants to direct less energy into seed production. Some species do not produce seeds at all, reproducing asexually through root growth. ADAPTING TO A CHANGING CLIMATE The polar regions have been of great concern as the Earthâ€™s climate warms. While weâ€™ve heard about the declining sea ice and its negative impact on 5
Science Content Knowledge marine wildlife, there’s evidence to suggest that Arctic plants may be better able to adapt to a warming world. Studies of nine flowering plant species from Svalbard, Norway, suggest that Arctic plants are able to shift long distances (via wind, floating sea ice, and birds) and follow the climate conditions for which they are best adapted. Wide dispersal of seeds and plant fragments might ensure survival of species as climate conditions change. While encouraging, this data does not necessarily extend to Antarctic species or species in the temperate regions. LINKS Tundra Plants http:// www.blueplanetbiomes.org/ tundra_plant_page.htm Detailed information about eight plant species that are found on the Arctic tundra. Plants of Antarctica http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/ about_antarctica/wildlife/plants/ index.php An overview of the species found in Antarctica. Life on Antarctica: Plants http://library.thinkquest.org/ 26442/html/life/plant.html Information about the vascular plants, lichens, mosses, algae, and fungi found in Antarctica.
Arctic Tundra Biome: Adaptation of Plants http:// videos.howstuffworks.com/ hsw/24671-arctic-tundrabiome-adaptation-of-plantsvideo.htm A short (1:38) video describes the adaptations of Arctic plants. Grow Low, Grow Fast, Hold On! http://www.athropolis.com/ arctic-facts/fact-plantssurvive.htm An overview of Arctic plant adaptations. Arctic Plants Have Adjusted to Climate Changes http://www.nytimes.com/ 2007/06/14/science/14cndarctic.html?_r=1 Blowing in the Wind: Arctic Plants Move Fast as Climate Changes http://www.sciam.com/ article.cfm?id=blowing-in-thewind-arctic-plants-move-fastas-climate-changes These two articles discuss findings related to Arctic plant mobility and resiliency. NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS: SCIENCE CONTENT STANDARDS The entire National Science Education Standards document can be read online or downloaded for free from the National Academies Press web
site. The following excerpt was taken from Chapter 6, http:// books.nap.edu/openbook.php? record_id=4962&page=103. A study of plants aligns with the Life Science content standards of the National Science Education Standards. In grades K-4, students focus on the characteristics and life cycles of organisms and the way in which organisms live in their environments. Students in grades 5-8 expand on this understanding by focusing on populations, communities of species, and the ways they interact with each other and with their environment. Teaching about plants can meet a wide variety of fundamental concepts and principles, including: K-4 Life Science • The Characteristics of Organisms • Life Cycles of Organisms • Organisms and Their Environments 5-8 Life Science • Reproduction and Heredity • Regulation and Behavior • Populations and Ecosystems • Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms
Literacy Content Knowledge Organizing Research Reports By Tracey Allen and Clarissa Reeson This article is the first in a twopart series about research reports. This month, we discuss a strategy to help students organize information. In our April 2009 issue, we'll talk about the writing process. Although students typically enjoy the researching process, writing about the information they have learned remains the daunting task. If we were to take a step back and reflect on the cause of this discouragement, we would see students grappling with the initial step of the research writing process. This leads us to the
ment ral Environ tu a N t/ a it Yak’s Hab Mountains • Himalaya a) • Asia (Chin 00 ft. 13,000-20,0 • Altitude • Cold • Snow • Rugged rrain • Rough Te
essential component that is missing from our instruction on research writing -organizing the research. As classroom teachers, we must explicitly teach our students how to organize the information they have learned. We have found that providing our students with an organizational tool for sorting their newly discovered information ensures that they will be able to successfully arrange their information in a systematic and manageable manner. This easy and studentfriendly approach enables the report writing to automatically flow from the organizational stage. Each student will need a manila folder with eight library card pockets attached to the inside of the folder. Each pocket should
As classroom teachers, we must explicitly teach our students how to organize the information they have learned.
be labeled to identify the type of information that should be stored in that pocket (see Diagram A, below). For instance, for an animal research paper, these eight labels could range from animal description to animal diet. These labels should reflect the information you want your students to focus on during their research.
Above: Diagram A. Manila folder layout for animal research report. Left: Diagram B. Simple index card.
Literacy Content Knowledge
Home work routine. Photo courtesy of Woodleywonderworks, Flickr.
Now your students will have a tool to organize their new learning, but they will not know how to use and sort their newly discovered information if we do not provide them with direct and guided instruction. Taking time to walk through this process as a whole class will ensure that all of your students understand the value of this organizational tool. You want to show your students how the label on the pocket represents the main idea of the paragraph and the information they place inside the pocket on index cards represents the details supporting the labeled main idea. For instance, let's consider the pocket labeled "habitat." The main idea of this paragraph is going to be the habitat in which 8
the animal lives. The information we place in the pocket is going to contain only information we learn about the animal's habitat. To practice this task, give each student the same article on a specific animal's habitat and an index card. Guide students through this process by having them highlight any information they find that relates to the animal's habitat. For example, if the yak is the sample animal, the index card may look something like Diagram B. Notice how the notes on the index card are no more than three words per line. Using this technique will ensure that your students are not plagiarizing any text and will have to rely on their own ability to create sentences from their notes.
Once students become familiar with this organizational tool, they will have a new understanding of the layout needed to create a coherent and well-organized research report. You will find your students motivated and excited about working on their research report and, more important, equipped to succeed with this difficult task! Template: Organizing Research Reports http://onramp.nsdl.org/eserv/ onramp:16442/ Organizing_Research.pdf A one-page pdf document that provides instructions for creating the manila folders and taking notes discussed in this article.
Feature Story: Partners Partners By Stephen Whitt
Stories for Students (and Teachers)!
This nonfiction article is written for use with upperelementary students (grades 4-5). Modified versions are available for students in grades K-1 and grades 2-3, or any student needing a simplified version. As always, consider the reading level and needs of your students when selecting a version for classroom use. At each grade level, the article is available in three forms. Printable pdf files allow you to print this story in either text-only or a foldable book format. A partnership with Content Clips has allowed us to create electronic versions of the articles. Your students can read along as they listen to the text - a wonderful way to support struggling readers! Related activities provide suggestions for integrating this story with your science and literacy instruction.
Imagine sharing your body with another person. Perhaps you'd each have a job. Your job might be to move and talk. The other person's job might be to eat and drink. It sounds crazy, but there are organisms on Earth that live this kind of life. They are called lichens. Lichens are living things that contain two separate organisms. Lichens are made of both a fungus and an alga. This strange combination is very successful. In fact, lichens are among the few organisms that thrive in the cold regions of both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Fungi (the plural of fungus) include mushrooms and toadstools. You might think of these as plants. In fact they are much more like animals than plants. Like animals, fungi must eat. And like animals, fungi can't make their own food, but must find it somewhere else. That's where the algae come in. Algae (the plural of alga) are very simple relatives of plants. But "simple" is misleading. Green plants and algae perform perhaps the most amazing miracle on Earth. They make their own food.
How? Deep inside these organisms, air and water turn into sugar. Without this miracle, none of us could eat or even take a breath. Let's take a closer look at this amazing event. It starts with carbon dioxide, a gas found in air. You know about carbon dioxide if you've ever had a drink of pop. The bubbles in pop are made of carbon dioxide gas. When the bubbles burst, carbon dioxide escapes into the air.
Fungus. Photo courtesy of Michael Maggs, Wikimedia Commons.
Plants and algae combine carbon dioxide from the air with a gas called hydrogen. But hydrogen isn't found in the air. Instead, it comes from water. You may have heard the scientific name for water, H2O. What does that name mean? 9
Feature Story: Partners Water is made of two different atoms. Those atoms are hydrogen (letter H) and oxygen (letter O). The 2 tells us that in every water molecule there are two atoms of hydrogen attached to one atom of oxygen. Plants and algae use the energy of sunlight to split the water molecule. Two gases, hydrogen gas and oxygen gas, come from the water molecule. The oxygen escapes as waste. But it isn't Top Left: Lichen. Photo courtesy of Sveres, stock.xchng. Top Middle: Fungi. Photo courtesy of stock.xchng. Top Right: Lichen. Photo courtesy of meâ€™nthedogs, Flickr. Bottom Left: Cup Forest, lichen. Photo courtesy of kvboxsta, stock.xchng. Bottom Middle: Lichen. Photo courtesy of stock.xchng. Bottom Right: Green Lichen. Photo courtesy of kaibara87, Flickr.
waste to us! The oxygen we breathe is made by plants and their relatives. We can thank them for not only the food we eat but also the air we breathe. Plants and algae build sugar from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Sugar is fantastic at storing energy. Have you ever burned a marshmallow? Marshmallows burn easily because they're made of sugar. Plants and algae use sugar to grow, to build and repair cells, and to reproduce. In lichen, the alga makes sugar, and uses some of it. The fungus also uses the alga's sugar. In return, the fungus provides the structure and the protection that helps keep the alga alive.
Lichens have no roots. Because of this, lichens can grow in strange places. Rocks, cliffs, and tree trunks are some of their favorite spots all over the world. In the Arctic and the Antarctic, there are no trees. Lichens survive there by clinging to rocks. Lichens grow slowly. They can stand long periods with no water. Also, they can withstand very cold weather. They even keep growing when covered in snow! Lichens are able to take water right out of extremely cold air. Russian cosmonauts have found that some lichens can even survive exposure to outer space! Lichens are tough. Many lichens reproduce simply by falling apart. Suppose a lichen gets
Feature Story: Partners
particularly dry and cold. It might crumble and blow away in the wind. But the lichen isn't dead. Instead, it is dormant. When warmer or wetter conditions return, the lichen might start growing again. Where once there was one lichen, now there are many, scattered by the wind. As long as just a little bit of the fungus and a little bit of the alga survive, the lichen can return. Lichens are important. Caribou depend on lichens for food. Humans have made colorful dyes from lichens. We've also made powerful medicines from them. Scientists are now studying how lichens can warn us about pollution. But most of all, lichens are an amazing example of cooperation. By working together, two separate organisms survive in some of the most difficult places on (or off!) Earth.
GLOSSARY algae: plantlike living things cosmonauts: Russian astronauts dormant: a state of low activity that some plants enter to survive cold weather fungi: living things such as mushrooms that look like plants but cannot make their own food lichen: a fungus and an alga living together RELATED ACTIVITIES Lichens, We Love 'Em! http://myfwc.com/educator/ images/LichensWeLoveEm.pdf A lesson plan in which students observe and describe different types of lichens and identify the environmental conditions that foster lichen growth. From the Florida Schoolyard Wildlife Project Activity Guide.
Top: Multi-colored lichen. Photo courtesy of wolfpix, Flickr. Bottom: Reindeer lichen. Photo courtesy of US Flish and Wildlife Service.
Misconceptions Common Misconceptions About Plants By Jessica Fries-Gaither Plants are one of the first science topics taught in elementary school. Students plant seeds, grow and measure plants, observe the life cycle, and learn about plant structures and functions. This is in keeping with the National Science Education Standards, which states that students in grades K-4 should understand that plants have basic needs, including air, water, nutrients, and light. Elementary students should also understand plants life cycles and that all animals depend on plants. While these concepts seem easily taught through observation and care for plants,
Top to Bottom: Plant Leaf. Photo courtesy of juandesant, Flickr. Leaves 2. Photo courtesy of Lisamarris, stock.xchng. Green Leaf. Photo courtesy of boxik, stock.xchng. Leaf 1 web. Photo courtesy of Jon Sullivan, Wikimedia Commons.
research shows that students do develop significant misconceptions about plants and their needs. Some of these misconceptions may be related to elementary students' limited classification skills. Many others stem from students' tendency to give plants human characteristics. Formative assessment can help teachers be aware of student thinking and mindful of their own understanding and explanations of concepts. We've highlighted some common misconceptions about plant classification, plant parts, needs of plants, plant food, and photosynthesis and respiration. Rather than an exhaustive list, this is meant to get you thinking about the ideas and understandings your own students may have. We've also provided tools for formative assessment and ideas for planning instruction accordingly.
Misconceptions MISCONCEPTIONS: PLANT CLASSIFICATIONS Students tend to classify plants based on recognizable characteristics (green, grow in the soil) and parts (stem, leaves, flowers). For example, about half of students in a recent study misclassified a mushroom as a plant because its stalk resembles the stem of a plant. Students may also not consider trees to be plants. However, this may be due to students' limited classification skills rather than an understanding of plants. Researchers have found that when classifying animals, elementary students tend to use mutually exclusive groups rather than subsets of a larger group. This may be the same for plants.
S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ...
Ins tead o f th in kin g. ..
Plants are not alive.
Plants are alive, even though they are different from animals and humans in many ways.
Trees, grass, vegetables, and weeds are not plants.
Plants have many different characteristics. There are many different types of plants throughout the world. Not all plants have the same structures (stems, leaves, flowers, roots).
MISCONCEPTIONS: PLANT PARTS While most students recognize the stem, leaves, and flowers of plants, fewer identify roots as a common structure. Students may need more experiences observing root systems of various plants.
S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ...
Ins tead o f th in kin g. ..
Plants take in all substances they need to grow through their roots.
Plants take in air through their leaves. Chloroplasts in the plant absorb the sun's energy for use in photosynthesis. Water and minerals are taken in through the roots.
Leaves take in water.
Water is taken in through the roots.
Plants get their energy from the soil through roots.
Chloroplasts in the plant absorb the sun's energy for use in photosynthesis. Water and minerals are taken in through the roots.
Misconceptions MISCONCEPTIONS: PHOTOSYNTHESIS & RESPIRATION Again, the tendency to give plants human or animal characteristics leads to misconceptions. For example, students often believe that plants perform "reverse breathing" in which they inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. In reality, plants use and produce both carbon dioxide and oxygen through two processes: photosynthesis and respiration.
In Bloom. Photo courtesy of madpai, Flickr.
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen. Photosynthesis requires energy, and a plant's chloroplasts absorb solar energy to fuel these reactions. Photosynthesis can only happen during the day when sunlight is available.
Respiration, on the other hand, is the breaking down of sugars (and oxygen) to provide energy for plant growth. Respiration also produces carbon dioxide and water, essentially the opposite of photosynthesis. Respiration does not require light and can happen at night. Plants do release oxygen into the atmosphere, as they produce more than they need during photosynthesis. The word "respiration" is often used incorrectly to describe breathing, but the two processes are different. Breathing, which occurs in animals, is the process of obtaining oxygen and removing carbon dioxide via lungs or gills. Respiration, as previously described, is the release of energy from food and occurs in both animals and plants.
S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ...
Ins tead o f th in kin g. ..
Plants breathe by inhaling carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen.
Plants take in air through their leaves. Both carbon dioxide and oxygen are used for different processes. Photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide, while respiration requires oxygen. While plants do release oxygen, it is a by-product of photosynthesis and is not released through breathing. Plants do not breathe. They absorb air through the stomata (pores) in their leaves.
Plants obtain their energy directly from the sun.
Energy from the sun allows the plant to carry out photosynthesis and produce sugars. Respiration breaks down these products and provides energy for the plant.
Misconceptions MISCONCEPTIONS: NEEDS OF PLANTS Students also tend to give plants human characteristics, especially when it comes to considering what plants need to grow. They may describe plants as eating, drinking, or breathing, or believe that plants need things that are provided by people. This may be an unintended consequence of having students grow and care for plants. The role of light and nutrients in plant growth seems to be especially difficult for elementary students. For example, students may view sunlight as useful but not essential for plant growth.
S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ...
Ins tead o f th in kin g. ..
Sunlight is helpful but not critical.
Sunlight is essential for plant survival.
Sunlight helps plants grow by keeping them warm.
Chloroplasts in the plant absorb the sun's energy for use in photosynthesis.
Soil provides a support structure and food for plants.
Some plants grow in soil-free environments. Plants take up water and minerals from soil, but not "food."
Plants need things provided by people (water, nutrients, light)
While people often care for plants (especially those indoors), plants as a whole are not dependent on people for their needs.
MISCONCEPTIONS: PLANT FOOD According to misconception studies, elementary students tend to believe that food must come from outside an organism. While outside sources of food are true for animals, plants produce sugars and starches through the process of photosynthesis. This misconception may be caused by students' tendency to give plants human characteristics. Fertilizer, commonly known as "plant food," may add to the confusion. While this substance is used to enhance plant growth, students may misinterpret the name to mean that it is essential for plant survival.
S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ...
Plants need "plant food" to eat.
Ins tead o f th in kin g. .. "Plant food" (fertilizer) can provide additional minerals and nutrients for plants. While plants do require these substances for growth, they can fulfill these needs through minerals in the soil and through photosynthesis. Plants do not "eat."
Misconceptions PROBING FOR STUDENT UNDERSTANDING What do your students think? Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science contain 25 formative assessment probes each to help teachers identify misconceptions. Each volume of this series contains several probes that relate to plants. Related formative assessment probes in Volume 1 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: • "Seedlings in a Jar" asks students to compare the mass of a closed system (jar) before and after seed germination. It can be used to elicit student ideas about germination and plant growth as well as conservation of matter in a closed system.” • "Is It Living?" asks students to differentiate between living and nonliving things. It provides insight into the attributes students use to consider if something is or was once living. This may help teachers determine if students consider plants to be living.” Related formative assessment probes in Volume 2 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: • "Is It a Plant?" asks students to decide whether a number of
items are plants. It provides insight into how students classify plants.” • "Needs of Seeds" asks students to determine what seeds need to sprout. It elicits student ideas about germination and seeds.” • "Plants in the Dark and Light" asks students to predict how the presence or absence of light will affect the growth of plants. It elicits student ideas about plant growth.” • "Is It Food for Plants?" asks students to indicate what plants use as food. It provides insight into students' understanding of food and plants.” • "Giant Sequoia Tree" asks students to decide where the matter in a sequoia tree originally came from. It elicits student ideas about plant growth and transformation of matter.” Related formative assessment probes in Volume 3 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: • "Does It Have a Life Cycle?" asks students to determine which organisms go through a life cycle. It can help teachers determine if students recognize that plants undergo life cycles.
TEACHING THE SCIENCE Based on their misconception study, researchers noted that most elementary students had a well-developed understanding of basic plant characteristics and needs. Researchers thus suggested that teachers move beyond these concepts and do the following: • Present real examples of nonflowering plants or plants without typical features (stem, leaves, roots). • Present examples of plants that grow in water without soil. • Have students germinate seeds with and without nutrients to observe the importance of nutrients in plant growth. • Have students grow plants in light and in darkness to observe the importance of light in plant survival. • Allow students to observe a variety of root structures and consider their functions. • Help students understand ways that plants are different from humans in form and function. Mindfully use language to promote correct understanding. For example, avoid the use of words such as "food," "eat," "drink," and "breathe" when discussing plants.
NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS Assessing and targeting student misconceptions about plants meet the Life Science Content Standard for grades K-4 and 5-8 of the National Science Education Standards. The entire National Science Education Standards document can be read online or downloaded for free from the National Academies Press web site. Science Content Standards can be found in Chapter 6, http:// books.nap.edu/openbook.php? record_id=4962&page=103.
Top Left: Roots. Photo courtesy of conskeptical, Flickr. Top Right: Sequoia Tree. Photo courtesy of SpecMode, Flickr. Bottom Left: Plant roots. Photo courtesy of conskeptical, Flickr. Bottom Right: . Planting seeds. Photo courtesy of rosehip71, Flickr.
Across the Curriculum: Lessons Pressing Plants: Connecting Science, Art, and the Natural World By Jessica Fries-Gaither Long used in both science and art, a plant press can be a valuable addition to your science class. Easily made from inexpensive materials, a press can help your students connect their study of plants in science class to what they observe in the natural world. Pressing plants, flowers, and even leaves can supplement your science curriculum in many ways. Students can • gain a better understanding of plant structures, • appreciate the diversity of plants in your local area, • learn skills for plant identification, and • learn about the field of botany and sampling practices. Additionally, sampling, pressing, and displaying specimens can engage students who have a strongly developed naturalist intelligence.
First, students will need to collect specimens. You can have students bring in leaves, flowers, and plants or you can collect them on a class field trip. Be sure to discuss guidelines for sampling with your students so they aren't disrupting gardens or other "off-limits" sources. If you will be taking a field trip, make sure that students will be able to collect specimens at the location. The types of specimens collected will depend on the focus of the activity. A lesson on trees will involve leaf collection, while a study of plant parts would involve small plants (preferably with flowers and roots). The time needed to press specimens will vary. Once completely dry, specimens can be mounted on paper using glue or tape. Students can label the plant with its name and information about where it was collected. Students could also demonstrate an understanding of plant or flower structures by labeling specimens accordingly. Students may each assemble a book of specimens, or create a class book. Alternatively, pressed flowers might be used in an art project.
Easily made from inexpensive materials, a press can help your students connect their study of plants in science class to what they observe in the natural world.
Finally, universities and botanical gardens often have pressed plant collections. You might be able to arrange a field trip or guest speaker to explain how these collections aid botanists in learning and identifying the many species of plants. LINKS How to Make a Flower Press http://www.ehow.com/ how_2069305_make-flowerpress.html Directions on how to make a flower press with inexpensive household materials. Make a Plant/Flower Press for Fun and Education http://www.emmitsburg.net/ gardens/articles/adams/2006/ flower_press.htm
Science and Literacy: Lessons
Pressed Leaves. Photo courtesy of Sean K., Flickr.
Directions for making a press, information about collecting and displaying specimens. Parent Made Developmental Toys http://literacy.kent.edu/Oasis/ PACT/flowerpress.html Information about building and using a plant press. Tree Identification 4-H Project http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/ infores/pubs/fypubs/ 4htreeid.pdf This project involves collecting, pressing, and displaying leaves as a means of tree identification. It includes reference information about leaf arrangement, types, shapes, and margins. The
project was written specifically for West Virginia and includes information about local species. Teachers in other states will want to substitute information about species in their area. Harriman and Plant Identification http://www.pbs.org/harriman/ education/lessonplans/ plant_id.html A lesson plan involving the collection and classification of plants. While originally written in conjunction with a PBS program, the lesson is easily adapted to any context. Top Right: Pressed flowers, owl. Photo courtesy of Deng Yingyu, Wikimedia Commons. Bottom Right: Pressed flowers. Photo courtesy of Deng Yingyu, Wikimedia Commons.
Science and Literacy: Lessons Hands-on Lessons and Activities about Plants By Jessica Fries-Gaither Plants are a common topic in elementary classrooms for good reason - they are an effective, inexpensive way for students to observe living organisms and life
cycles firsthand. Primary students often focus on familiar plants, basic plant structures and their functions, and our use of plants as a food source. In the upper-elementary grades, students investigate germination, plant life cycles, and flowering and seed production in more detail. These students are also ready to consider the diversity of plants around the world and the adaptations that allow plants to survive in very different environments.
Whether you're planting flowers for a Mother's Day gift or meeting your science curriculum's standards, plants can help students develop their ability to observe, describe, and classify. A study of plants is also a wonderful opportunity for inquiry-based teaching and learning.
Left: Fruiting Cotton-grass. Photo courtesy of Jorg Hempel, Wikimedia Commons. Top Right: Lichen Moss. Photo courtesy of Photographygal123, Flickr. Bottom Right: Green Lichen. Photo courtesy of kaibara87, Flickr.
Science & Literacy: Lessons Exploring Plants (Grades K-2) http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/ lsps07.sci.life.oate.lpexploreplant/ Students observe plant growth by watching timelapse videos and by growing their own plants. They identify the conditions needed for seed germination and explore the role of fruit in seed dispersal. This lesson meets the Life Science and Science in Personal and Social Perspectives Content Standards of the National Science Education Standards. To integrate literacy into this lesson, try the following: Draw a Story: Stepping From Pictures to Writing (Grades K-2) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=45 In this activity, students draw a series of pictures that tell a simple, sequential story. They read their story to others, transcribe their oral story into writing, and create an accordion book with drawings on the front side and writing on the back. Students could use this format to demonstrate understanding of plant germination, growth, flowering, and seed production.
teachers can customize the activity by using different plants or asking students to bring in plants to use. This lesson meets the Science as Inquiry and Life Science Content Standards of the National Science Education Standards. To integrate literacy into this lesson, try the following: Introducing the Venn Diagram in the Kindergarten Classroom (Grades K-2) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=378 This lesson uses hula hoops, real objects, and online interactive to introduce the Venn diagram as students sort, compare and contrast, and organize information. Teachers could use this lesson to introduce Venn diagrams, then create a Venn diagram as a class as students compare roots, stems, and leaves from various plants. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12.
This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 4, 5, 6, 12. What Parts Are There to a Plant? (Grades K-2) http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/lessons.cfm? BenchmarkID=5&DocID=343 In this lesson, students identify and sort plant parts through hands-on activities and group discussions and then work with magnifying lenses and tape measures to document their observations. The lesson uses vegetables, but
Leaves. Photo courtesy of stock.xchng.
Science & Literacy: Lessons Growth, Development, and Reproduction (Grades K-5) http://www.fastplants.org/pdf/activities/ WFP_growth-development-06web.pdf This unit is designed to be used with Fast Plants, a type of plant that has been bred to have a very short life cycle. Fast Plants will produce harvestable seeds approximately 40 days after planting. The unit allows students to investigate germination, growth, pollination, and seed production. This unit meets the Science as Inquiry and Life Science Content Standards of the National Science Education Standards. To integrate literacy into this lesson, try the following: How Does My Garden Grow? Writing in Science Field Journals (Grades K-2, modify for 3-5) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=846 Students record observations in a field journal. While this lesson was written around a gardening project, teachers can easily modify the lesson to fit any science investigation. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12.
Supermarket Botany (Grades 2-5) http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/ lsps07.sci.life.oate.plantparts/ In this interactive activity, students categorize common foods according to the part of the plant from which they come. Students should have background knowledge of plant structures (roots, stems, seeds, leaves, flowers, and fruit) and their functions. This activity meets the Life Science Content Standard of the National Science Education Standards. To integrate literacy into this lesson, try the following: Rooting out Meaning: Morpheme MatchUps in the Primary Grades (Grades 3-5) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=880 Why not study root words while learning about plant parts? In this lesson, students use morphemes to deconstruct and construct words. Teachers could modify this lesson to include other prefixes, suffixes, and root words. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 3, 8.
Science & Literacy: Lessons Living Life as a Plant (Grades 3-5) http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/ lsps07.sci.life.oate.lplifeasplant/ In this media-rich lesson, students explore how plants are well adapted to their surroundings. This lesson focuses on desert plants, but teachers could extend the lesson by discussing adaptations in other environments (rain forest, tundra). This lesson meets the Life Science and Science in Personal and Social Perspectives Content Standards of the National Science Education Standards. To integrate literacy into this lesson, try the following: Teaching Science Through Picture Books: A Rainforest Lesson (Grades 3-5) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=31 A study of the tropical rainforest is introduced through the picture book Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen. This science lesson, which incorporates reading, writing, and technology, is a template that can be used with other books by Jane Yolen to teach about the desert, the polar ice cap, and the Everglades. Teachers can modify this lesson to focus on plant adaptations in each environment. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12.
Plants and Animals, Partners in Pollination (Grades 4-5) http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/ lesson_plans/partners_in_pollination/index.html In this three-lesson series, students explore the relationship between flowering plants and pollinating animals. This lesson meets the Life Science Content Standard of the National Science Education Standards. To integrate literacy into this lesson, try the following: Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Genre Study (Grades 3-5) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=188 In this lesson, students explore a variety of comic strips, discuss components and conventions, and create their own. Teachers could modify this lesson to have students create a comic strip showing the process of pollination and seed formation or the relationship between flowering plants and pollinating animals. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 11, 12.
Cotton Grass. Photo courtesy of Stuart Meek, Wikimedia Commons.
Science & Literacy: Lessons How Do Seeds Travel? (Grades K-5) http://content.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp? id=3212 Students observe and test seeds that travel by wind, water, and animals. Though this activity was originally written for students in grades 6-10, elementary teachers can easily modify it for use in their classrooms. This activity meets the Life Science Content Standard of the National Science Education Standards. To integrate literacy into this lesson, try the following: Draw a Story: Stepping From Pictures to Writing (Grades K-2) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=45 In this activity, students draw a series of pictures that tell a simple, sequential story. They "read" their story to others, transcribe their oral story
into writing, and create an accordion book with drawings on the front side and writing on the back. Students could use this format to demonstrate understanding of seed dispersal. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 4, 5, 6, 12. Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Genre Study (Grades 3-5) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=188 In this lesson, students explore a variety of comic strips, discuss components and conventions, and create their own. Teachers could modify this lesson to have students create a comic strip showing the process of seed dispersal. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 11, 12. Tundra ANWR. Photo courtesy of Aconcagua, Wikimedia Commons.
Off The Bookshelf: Polar Plants Polar Plants: Virtual Bookshelf By Julie Moran
When students think about the Arctic tundra, most mention snow, ice, and polar bears. There is usually no mention of the 1,700 plant species, including 400 kinds of flowering plants. Arctic tundra plants have adapted to harsh conditions. They are typically small and grow clumped together to resist the
wind and gain protection from the cold. Many of the plants have hairy leaves that hold in heat. We've divided this month's bookshelf into three categories: Plants and Plant Life, Arctic and Antarctic Plants, and Penguins and Polar Bears.
Recommended Books: Plants & Plant Life How Does It Grow? From Seed to Sunflower. Ian Smith. 2004. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. Simple text and bright photographs introduce sunflowers and the extraordinary journey they take from seed to plant. Includes directions for growing sunflowers and notes for using the book effectively in the classroom or in the home.
From Seed to Plant. Gail Gibbons. 1991. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-5. A simple introduction to how plants reproduce, discussing pollination, seed dispersal, and growth from seed to plant. Teachers of the early grades might use the illustrations to discuss a plant's life cycle. The more detailed text is appropriate for use with older students.
Seeds. Vijaya Khisty Bodach. 2007. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. Easy text with photographs presents seeds, how they grow, and their uses. This is an introductory book from the Pebble Plus series.
A Parade of Plants. Melissa Stewart. 2004. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades: 2-4. This book will help students study plants as a scientist does. It introduces the parts of a plant, life cycles, and plant growth. Includes interesting activities students can do to help them explore the world of plants.
Off The Bookshelf: Polar Plants Recommended Books: Arctic Plants Counting in the Tundra. Fredrick L. McKissack. 2008. Nonfiction book. Grades K-2. Most of the pages feature animals, but one of the twopage spreads is devoted to the pasque flower. Children can count the six petals of the flower and learn that it grows along the sides of mountains.
Discovering the Arctic Tundra. Janey Levy. 2008. Nonfiction book. Grades 3-4. Probably many people think that snow is harmful to Arctic plants, but snow is warmer than the air above it and serves as a blanket to protect the plants from harsh winds. Learn this and other amazing facts!
A Home on the Tundra. Katie Marsico. 2007. Nonfiction book. Grades K-2. This early reader has photographs and good information on lichens and shrubs.
Tundra: The Barren Wilderness. Michael George. 2002. Nonfiction book. Grades 3-5. Students will learn that the tundra is full of life during the summer. Wildflowers, such as larkspur, louseworts, and dwarf clover, and bearberry shrubs rise from the shallow soil and paint the land with many colors. Readers will also learn that lichens are not really plants but organisms formed by algae and fungi growing together. Photographers and interesting text make this book a must for learning about the tundra.
Explore the Tundra. Linda Tagliaferro. 2007. Nonfiction book. Grades 2-4. Students will learn that many tundra plants grow in groups and that plants on the edge of the group protect the middle plants from the strong winds. Photographs of Arctic landscapes and wildlife make this an inviting and fascinating resource for young readers.
A Walk in the Tundra. Rebecca L. Johnson. 2001. Nonfiction book. Grades: 4-5. Students will learn that Arctic plants have small, tough, leathery leaves because these leaves are able to stand up to cold and wind better than large leaves can. This book includes photographs and journal sketches of the Arctic landscape.
Off The Bookshelf: Polar Plants Recommended Books: Penguins and Polar Bears Positively Penguins! Kathryn Stevens. 2009. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5. This penguin resource is divided into three chapters: All about Penguins, Penguin Families, and Protecting Penguins. Students will learn about the different species, habitats, predators, food sources, and what people can do to protect penguins. The book has an index, a glossary, a list of recommended reading, and a website that students can access for further study on penguins.
Polar Bears: Arctic Hunters. Norman Pearl. 2009. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-4. Polar bears spend lots of time hunting. Seals are their favorite prey. Polar bears often wait by a breathing hole or at the edge of the ice. When a seal comes up for air, the polar bear bites into it and pulls it up on the ice. Learn these and other amazing facts about polar bears and their incredible hunting skills.
Why Use Childrenâ€™s Literature? Linking science instruction to children's literature has become increasingly popular in recent years for a variety of reasons: the literature connection motivates students, provokes interest, helps students connect scientific ideas to their personal experiences, accommodates children with different learning styles, and promotes critical thinking. Whatever the reason, we know that books about science can capture even the most reluctant readers and writers. Students are naturally drawn to the colorful photographs and layouts of nonfiction science texts. Using science books allow teachers to meet their reading and writing goals while filling a need to teach more science. Teachers can use books as a starting point for meaningful classroom discussions; some teachers even begin class by reading a poem or a picture book aloud, simply for the enjoyment of the literature. Some teachers project the book onto a screen so the class can read the text together. Picture books make wonderful writing prompts and can provoke good journal writing. Interdisciplinary thematic units can be broadened by use of children's literature. Youâ€™ll notice that most of our selected books are nonfiction. We believe that elementary students need exposure to this genre to set a compelling purpose for reading and to become familiar with the text structures used in expository and informational text. Reading nonfiction trade books also supplements scientific investigations and helps students connect hands-on experiences with abstract concepts. In other cases, the text provides valuable information that cannot be gained through hands-on experience. Finally, nonfiction books can serve as mentor texts, providing models after which students can pattern their own writing.
Abo u t U s Beyond Penguins and Polar BearsÂ is an online professional development magazine for elementary teachers. It prepares teachers to integrate high-quality science instruction with literacy teaching. The magazine is available for free at http:// beyondpenguins.nsdl.org. Twenty thematic issues link polar science concepts to the scope and sequence of elementary science curricula. The result is a resource that includes issues devoted to day and night, seasons, plants and mammals, erosion, and other physical, earth and space, and life science concepts. Some issues are also interdisciplinary, focusing on polar explorers, the indigenous people of the Arctic, and the challenges of doing science in the polar regions. To browse the complete archive of issues, visit http:// beyondpenguins.nsdl.org/archive.php. Other project features include a companion blog (http://expertvoices.nsdl.org/polar) about polar news and research and a social networking site (http:// beyondpenguins.ning.com) for elementary teachers to communicate and collaborate with colleagues across the country and around the world. Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024 and is produced by an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University (OSU), College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center (ORC) for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL); and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Core Integration team at Cornell University and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).