This first trimester of STEM Club is an overview class – designed so that I can gauge their individual interests as well as get an idea of their prior knowledge. We wrapped up our mini-unit on plants this week by diving into seed plants in more depth, specifically monocots vs dicots.
Angiosperms vs Gymnosperms
Angiosperms are the most diverse group of land plants – in fact, 90% of all plants are angiosperms. Angiosperms are plants that produce seeds within an enclosure; they are fruiting plants, although more commonly referred to as flowering plants. I discuss flowering plants in more detail below.
Gymnosperms, from the Greek word gymnospermos meaning “naked seeds”, are so named because of the unenclosed condition of their seeds. Gymnosperm seeds develop either on the surface of scales or leaves, often modified to form cones.
The focus of this post is on the angiosperms. I discuss gymnosperms in more detail in the next post, Parts of a Tree.
Monocots vs Dicots
Traditionally, angiosperms have been divided into two major groups, or classes,: the dicotyledons or dicots (Magnoliopsida) and monocotyledons or monocots (Liliopsida). They differ in morphological characteristics of leaves, stems, flowers and fruit of flowering plants. Here is a great chart that contrasts the similarities and differences between these two classes, Monocot vs Dicot.
I passed out a fresh bean pod and a few corn kernels (fresh off the cob) for each student. I asked that they take apart each seed and in doing so look for and identify the embryo, seed coat, seed leaf, and stored food of each. As I only had one microscope, students were called up in pairs to observe a cross section of a monocot and dicot stem. They were instructed to sketch and label each component in their notebooks and if interested, to try growing each at home.
I created a shutter fold printable so they could further explore the concept at home. You can download a free copy of this for yourself, Monocots vs Dicots. I really struggled with this one, so please let me know if you have any trouble interpreting the instructions.