MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Investigating simple plants

Investigating simple plants

Claire Torrey, Bluff Creek Elementary school, Chasnhassen, MN based on an original lesson from Harcourt Science, grade 3, 2005, page A12.
Author Profile

Summary

Students will gather moss from the schoolyard, and observe it carefully, documenting their observations in their science notebooks. They will develop an investigable question from their observations, design and run an investigation on their own, documenting everything in their science notebooks. They will present their findings to their classmates at the end of the investigation.

Learning Goals

Goals:
Students will describe moss.
Students will compare moss with the plants grown in another investigation.
Students will develop an investigable question.
Concepts:
Moss and other simple plants are different than complex plants.

Vocabulary:
Moss
Simple plant
Hand lens
Investigable
Compare

Context for Use

This is a field exercise for third graders in a self-contained classroom. The entire activity, including the field exercises and follow up work should take four 55 minute class periods. It requires a science notebook and hand lens for each student. Students should have been exposed to the concept of seed producing plants prior to this activity. It would be easily adaptable to other levels and group sizes.

Subject: Biology:Ecology
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity, Field Activity
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will be in the middle of an investigation of plants, and will be at the point that they are waiting for several days to see what happens. In this context, we will conduct an inquiry investigation into another type of plant, moss, to continue their learning and extend their thinking.
Students will go out into the school courtyard to find and gather moss specimens. They need to take careful notes as to where they obtained the specimens, what the conditions were where it was growing, and how large an area it covered.
We will take the samples back to the classroom, where students will observe, measure, draw and label their moss specimens. Groups will be asked to develop questions about the moss, and design an inquiry investigation to determine the answer to their question. Their notebooks should contain evidence of their observations, their focus questions, a prediction, the planning of their investigation, their data and graphs, their conclusions (including claims and evidence), and a reflection on further questions and next steps.
Students will document their investigations in their science notebooks, and present their findings to classmates at the end of their experience.

Teaching Notes and Tips

In the past, this investigation has solely been an exercise in labeling plant parts. This is now an opportunity for the students to design and complete an inquiry investigation on a topic that catches their curiosity. One area of confusion that may come up is how mosses and other simple plants are different than more complex, seed-bearing plants.

Assessment

Students will record the entire investigations in their science notebooks. Their grades are based on whether or not their notebooks contain evidence of their observations, their focus questions, a prediction, the planning of their investigation, their data and graphs, their conclusions (including claims and evidence), and a reflection on further questions and next steps.

Standards

3.4.1.1.1 Comparing different structures of plants
3.4.1.1.2 Identify common groups of plants
3.1.1.2.3 Maintain a record of observations, procedures, and explanations
3.1.1.2.1 Generate Questions

References and Resources

See more MnSTEP Activities »