Grade Range
Kindergarten-2nd
Group Size
Pairs
Active Time
1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time
1 hour 40 minutes
Area of Science
Plant Biology
Key Concepts
Structure and function in nature, branching, tree
Learning Objectives
  • Identify common shapes and patterns that occur in nature.
  • Make drawings of branching patterns based on a natural object.
  • Explain the function of branching patterns in trees and other living organisms.
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
 Three examples of branching structures in nature. The left picture shows a tree without leaves. The middle picture shows a stem of parsley. The right picture shows a leaf with prominent veins.

Overview

Nature is full of objects with many different shapes. Some of these shapes display obvious regularities or distinct patterns, such as stripes, waves, symmetry, or spirals. Each of these natural patterns has evolved over a very long time and serves a specific function that usually helps a plant, animal, or other organism to survive. In this lesson plan, students explore the branching pattern of trees, plants, and leaves. They will make drawings and a leaf rubbing to compare different branching patterns and do an experiment to investigate why this structure could be useful for a tree or other organisms.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Developing and Using Models. Develop a simple model based on evidence to represent a proposed object or tool.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Use and share pictures, drawings, and/or writings of observations.

Use observations (firsthand or from media) to describe patterns and/or relationships in the natural and designed world(s) in order to answer scientific questions and solve problems.
LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems. Plants depend on water and light to grow.
Structure and Function. The shape and stability of structures of natural and designed objects are related to their function(s).

Patterns. Patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence.

Materials


Materials needed for the the 'Design in Nature: Investigate the Branching Structure of Trees' lesson plan.

Materials for educator:

  • Example tree pictures
  • Example pictures of branching structures in nature
  • Example pictures of shapes and patterns in nature
  • One tree leaf with prominent veins for each student
  • Colored pencils or crayons for students to share

Materials for each group of 2 students:

  • Two branched stems of curled parsley
  • Flashlight (can also be shared between groups)
  • Tape
  • Two sheets of white printer paper or graph paper

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Grade Range
Kindergarten-2nd
Group Size
Pairs
Active Time
1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time
1 hour 40 minutes
Area of Science
Plant Biology
Key Concepts
Structure and function in nature, branching, tree
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
Learning Objectives
  • Identify common shapes and patterns that occur in nature.
  • Make drawings of branching patterns based on a natural object.
  • Explain the function of branching patterns in trees and other living organisms.
Free science fair projects.