Many years ago I taught third grade and every year we completed a hands-on study of seeds. We planted a fast-growing seed called the Brassica and watched our little plants go through their entire life cycle- from seed to seed. It was a spectacular study.
While we waited for the growth spurts (and it really only took about 45 days to see bubs, blooms, pollen, and then seed pods) we learned the parts of the flower and also learned about pollination.
Seriously, this was one of my favorite science units. So, how can we take that study one step further and have a STEM Challenge? Here is everything you need to know! (With some extra activities about seeds!)
Let’s divide this into a few categories!
- Seed Dispersal
- Flower Parts
- Other Ways to Use Seeds
One of the things our third-grade study touched on was how seeds get from place to place. That study only mentioned a few ways that seeds can be moved. There are so many ways!
The most fun way to talk about involves the invention of velcro. Do you know the story?
Velcro was invented by a Swiss engineer named George De Mestral. He was removing burrs from his dog’s fur and wondered why the burrs would stick so securely. Looking at the burrs closely he discovered a hook on the burr that was wrapping around the fur. Well, that is exactly how velcro works.
So, one of the ways that seeds are dispersed is by attaching to animals. In the STEM Challenge, students must design a way to show this method. In the photo above the team used a glove and decorated it to be a turkey (notice the wattle) and seeds are attached to it.
Another really fun method of seed dispersal is called “explosion”. In this method, the seed pod literally explodes. Just do a search on YouTube for “Exploding Cucumbers” and you will find a fabulous video. Kids love this one so much.
In the photo, a group has made a decorated balloon seed pod. They are making it explode by sticking it with a pushpin. So fun!
Another form of seed dispersal is about the use of wind. Some seeds just blow away from the parent plant as the wind blows. (Think dandelion.)
In the photo, students made a parachute and attached the seed pod to it. The seeds fall off as the parachute floats to the ground.
If you need a way to get students to write and illustrate seed dispersal methods a little flipper book will do the trick!
This one includes posters of the different dispersal methods and templates for student booklets- 8 pages!
Students write about and draw some of the seed dispersal methods. My third graders always loved creating little booklets like these!
Have you ever dissected flowers? This is one of the activities we always did while we were learning the flower parts. I bought carnations and gave each student one flower. They used forceps to pull off the petals one at a time. This leaves only the center of the flower and you can see the pistil and stamens. Then we pulled those off and used our fingers to pull open the ovary. You can see the tiny seeds inside it! Students taped these tiny parts in their science notebooks and labeled them. It was magical to see the parts we had only talked about previously. And then, we completed a flipper book!
Students label the parts of a seed and write about sprouting. They label the parts of a flower and then match meanings with the words.
This will involve cutting and gluing some meaning strips. In the end, students will have a little flipper booklet to save or add to interactive science notebooks.
This is a perfect assessment to use with your flower study!
Design a 3-D Flower
Students were given craft items and the task is to design the flower and its parts and label everything. This is actually another great assessment of the study. Do they have all the parts? Are the parts labeled correctly and in the right places?
Other Ways to Use Seeds
We loved studying about the flower and its parts and discovering the seed dispersal ways. But, can we go even further and design a spectacular bird feeder?
Of course, we can!
Students used boxes to design the bird feeder. First, they made the style feeder they wanted. Then they painted and decorated. The feeder had to have a perch for the bird and a place to pour in the seeds. Isn’t the one above just amazing?
Some groups chose to use an empty water bottle for the feeder. These worked great, but we did discover painting them was hard. It took multiple coats of paint!
There are so many ways to learn about seeds in the classroom- including STEM Challenges and hands-on studies. Have fun!
You might also enjoy these blog posts: