The focus for STEM Club this week is The Plant Kingdom or kingdom Plantae. Plants, also called green plants or viridiplantae in Latin, are multicellular organisms. The cell walls contain cellulose and generally, plants obtain most of their energy from sunlight via photosynthesis using chlorophyll contained in chloroplasts, hence the green color.
After reviewing their work from the previous week (see Scientific Classification), I began the lesson with a fun activity to get them comfortable using their observation skills, Forest Mystery Bags. Each pair of students was given a brown paper bag of materials collected in the forest. They were instructed to reach in and to make a list of the bag’s contents using only their sense of touch. After several minutes, the contents were revealed and we discussed any surprises –> an elk tooth and a wood chip with beaver teeth marks.
The Plant Kingdom
We discussed how scientists use a variety of characteristics (seed bearing or spore bearing, vascular or non-vascular, etc.) to further divide the kingdom Plantae into smaller divisions. I then shared with them a poster showing the five plant divisions: angiosperms (flowering plants), gymnosperms (conifers), ferns & horsetails, mosses, and liverworts & hornworts.
They were instructed to take notes, sketching a simple key in their interactive notebooks (I had a sample on the overhead). Thereafter, we practiced identifying a few common trees using a dichotomous key. I brought along a number of leaf samples and a small collection of seeds and cones and provided time for the kids to sketch a few in their notebooks. Sweetie and Buddy shared their nature journals with the other students and we encouraged them to begin a similar journal themselves.
Similarly, when the kids asked if they could keep the elk teeth and cones, I told them about our Cabinet of Curiosities. “You can start one of you own,” I encouraged. “You can begin with a simple egg carton. Over time, your collection will grow. Collect things of interest to you. Seeds, cones, feathers, stones, and insects are just a few ideas.”
Before I dismissed the class, I shared with them the new foldable for their interactive science notebook, Types of Plants (pictured above). Click on the link here to download a copy for yourselves. As before, if you use this foldable yourself, please share it with me. I would love to see your kids’ work when they have finished. You can post a link in the comments or feel free to email me a digital picture of their work.
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