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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
3 students
Active Time
2.5 hours
Total Time
2.5 hours
Area of Science
Plant Biology
Key Concepts
Plant biology, plant reproduction, interdependence
Learning Objectives
  • Name at least two modes of seed dispersal.
  • Explain why plants grow seeds with hooks and spikes.
  • Design and build a plant seed that fulfills certain requirements.
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
One self-made and one natural burr attached to a wool glove.

Overview

In this small group activity, students will build a plant seed (burr) from a Styrofoam® ball and other crafts materials. The seed needs to be designed in a way that it can be dispersed by attaching to a mockup animal (wool glove). Students will first test if their seed attaches to the wool glove and then carry their attached seed along an obstacle course inside the classroom. As students design their plant seed and mimic its dispersal via an animal, they will realize how some plants grow specialized seeds and employ animals to disperse their seeds in order to increase their chances of successful reproduction.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-LS1-4. Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.

  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Apply scientific ideas or principles to design, construct, and/or test a design of an object, tool, process or system.

Undertake a design project, engaging in the design cycle, to construct and/or implement a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints

Optimize performance of a design by prioritizing criteria, making tradeoffs, testing, revising, and retesting.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms. Plants reproduce in a variety of ways, sometimes depending on animal behavior and specialized features for reproduction.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it.

There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.
Structure and Function. Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used.

Materials


Materials needed for the seed design lesson.

For each student group:

  • Styrofoam® balls, 3 cm diameter (2)
  • Wool glove
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Craft materials: Toothpicks, pipe cleaners, paper clips, metal wire, rubber bands, paper, etc. Note: Velcro tape is another option, but this might result in all seeds looking the same and being successful in the obstacle course.

For teacher:

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
3 students
Active Time
2.5 hours
Total Time
2.5 hours
Area of Science
Plant Biology
Key Concepts
Plant biology, plant reproduction, interdependence
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
Learning Objectives
  • Name at least two modes of seed dispersal.
  • Explain why plants grow seeds with hooks and spikes.
  • Design and build a plant seed that fulfills certain requirements.
Free science fair projects.