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Learning Experience/Unit

Seed By Design by NYSATL


Subject

English Language Arts (2005)

Grade Levels

Intermediate, Commencement, 7th Grade, 10th Grade


Learning Context/ Introduction

In this learning experience, students design, construct, test and draw conclusions about artificial wind-dispersed seeds in a controlled environment.

Purpose of learning experience:
After examining samples of naturally-occurring wind-dispersed seeds, students will design, construct, and test student-designed "artificial wind-dispersed" seeds under a controlled environment. After analysis of data collected from trial runs, students will then assess and determine modifications for a "redesign" of their artificial seeds. Modified seeds will then be tested under the same controlled environment and data will be recorded for analysis. Students then interpret, compare, and evaluate the original to the modified seed and determine desirable characteristics for wind-dispersed seeds.

Through this learning experience, students will construct knowledge by being able to:

  • identify desirable characteristics of wind-dispersed seeds and explore the different structures and how each plays a role in the flight of the seeds
  • choose the "best" of these desirable characteristics and indicate how they enhance the distance dispersed
  • discuss the concept of competition and natural selection in terms of wind-dispersed seeds

Procedure / Day 1 and 2

DAY 1 Pre-activity of sample seed packet:
For the pre-activity of this learning experience, the teacher needs to have a sample of naturally-occurring wind-dispersed seeds. It is highly recommended that the teacher collects samples of seeds throughout the year and store them for later retrieval. Examples of seeds include: dandelion, cottonwood, milkweed, maple tree, and grass seeds. Any park or woodland area will provide seeds as well as most backyards. If Lyme Disease is a consideration for your area and you wish to still use seeds from the natural world, then it is highly recommended for the teacher to gather many samples of seeds from non-Lyme Disease areas or purchase seeds from a horticultural society.

Sample seeds should be distributed to cooperative teams consisting of three students in each team. (Each team should select students for each of the following roles: the "facilitator" whose task is to keep the team members focused on each of the tasks; the "recorder" whose task is to record all observations, notes, final draft of design, data collection; the "materials handler and timer" whose task is to keep track of materials used in the design and manage time to complete all phases of the task.)

Each team should examine the seeds within the teacher-prepared packet of seeds. Students should be reminded to handle the seeds gently. Observations should be recorded in terms of the following: general shape; length, width, and depth of seed; mass of seed; surface area characteristics; description of any attachments; and other characteristics. (Worksheet attached.)

DAY 2 Trial test runs of sample seed packet:
Students will take part in the class activity of gathering data of wind-dispersed seeds from the seeds examined on Day 1. Data collected will be the drop time of the seeds and the time and distance traveled by the seeds when "artificial wind" is applied to them. During this teacher-directed activity, each team will take turns collecting data for the entire class on each seed type. The protocol to be used is described. (This protocol will be used when cooperative teams make their artificial seeds.) All students should record the data collected on each seed type. (Worksheets attached.)

NOTE: The distance measured by how far the seeds travel will be the horizontal distance traveled from point of release to point of contact on the classroom floor. The parabolic distance is not used as a measurement in the learning experience as outlined. However, teachers may adapt the learning experience for this purpose.

Protocol 1:
1. Measure a distance of 2 meters above the classroom's floor. Mark this distance by placing tape on wall, hanging string from the ceiling, etc.
2. Hold seed at the measured distance. Using a stop watch, record the time it takes to reach the ground upon release.
3. Repeat 2 more times and calculate the average from all three timings. Record average in data chart.
4. Repeat procedures #1-3 by having each team alternate and come forward to perform steps on a new seed type.
5. After all seeds have been tested, a general class discussion should occur. Some possible questions to pose are:

  • Does the mass of a seed affect the time it takes to reach the ground?
  • How does the surface area affect the time it takes to reach the ground?
  • What factors might have contributed to the fastest seed time? slowest seed time?
  • Is there any relationship to the data collected and how seeds are adapted for competition and natural selection in the natural environment?

Protocol 2: Only the teacher should touch the fan(s) used.
(All students should be careful around any electrical devices.)
1. Measure a distance of 2 meters above the ground. Place a fan on a support structure at this height. (Depending on the power of the fan and the amount of wind you desire for this activity, you will have to determine the speed adjustment of the fan and whether more than one fan is needed.) Whatever you determine suitable, make sure this "wind speed" stays consistent throughout the duration of the learning experience.
2. Turn fan(s) on. Each team will then alternate with one seed type and follow steps 3-6.
3. Release the seed at the 2-meter height above the floor. Record time the seed takes to reach the ground in the data chart. (Worksheet attached.) Determine the distance traveled by the falling seed by measuring the distance traveled from the "marked tape" on the floor to where the seed landed. Record distance traveled in the data chart.
4. Repeat 2 more times and calculate the average.
5. All members of class should record data from each of the team's trial runs.
6. After all seeds have been tested, a general class discussion should occur. Some possible questions to pose are:

  • Is there any relationship between the mass of a seed and the distance traveled from point of release?
  • How does the surface area affect the distance traveled from the point of release?
  • What factors might have contributed to the farthest distance traveled? shortest distance traveled?
  • Is there any relationship between time traveled to distance traveled?
  • Is there any relationship to the data collected and how seeds are adapted for competition and natural selection in the natural environment?

Have students analyze and interpret data for conclusions to share with class. Format can either be written or discussed orally.

To address different student learning styles and heterogeneous groupings, individual students or cooperative teams can:

  • construct spreadsheets on data collected from Protocol 1 and 2
  • construct line-graphs:
    ---drop time (seconds) from Protocol 1 on the x-axis and the distance traveled (meters) from Protocol 2 on the y-axis;
    ---drop time (seconds) from Protocol 2 on the x-axis and the distance traveled (meters) from Protocol 2 on the y-axis;
  • construct bar graphs:
    ---seed type to drop time from Protocol 1
    ---seed type to drop time from Protocol 2
    ---seed type to distance traveled from Protocol 2

Procedure / Day 3 and 4

Student-designed "artificial wind-dispersed" seeds:

Students group into cooperative teams formed at beginning of the learning experience. (Teacher's discretion: Teacher may wish to reassign individual task roles within cooperative teams to give students a chance to practice a new role.) Each cooperative team is given a packet of man-made materials.

It is highly recommended that student teams be given Seeds By Design rubrics ahead of time. This will guide them through the design process and can allow for on-going evaluation of their product. Note: Teacher's discretion: may want to give student teams "steps to procedure" in written form as an aid instead of relying on verbal directions.

Procedure:
1. Design the best possible "artificial wind-dispersed" seed using any of the materials provided to you in the packet. You do not have to use all the materials found in the packet, nor the entire amount of any specified material(s) chosen. The only material that you have unlimited access to is: glue, scotch tape, and masking tape.
2. Each cooperative team must submit:

  • a graphic representation of the seed design with labeling of materials used
  • lab notes recording the materials used and the amount of materials used
  • reasons for using the designated materials for seed construction

3. Each cooperative team builds the artificial seed for testing purposes.
4. Each cooperative team constructs data chart for recording three trial runs of drop time (refer to Protocol 1) and three trial runs of distance time and distance traveled (refer to Protocol 2). Averages for both protocols are calculated.
5. Each cooperative team studies data collected and interprets results in relation to the "artificial seed design." Teams should indicate whether the trial runs support or refute the seed design and suggest ways to refine or redesign the experiment for further investigation.

Note: When all teams have constructed and tested seeds using Protocol 1 and 2, a "time-out" should occur where all groups can share: 1) first design of seed 2) test results 3) conclusions and reflection.

Procedure / Day 5 and 6

The redesign of "artificial wind-dispersed" seeds:

1. Each cooperative group will now modify their "artificial seed." (Some of the modifications may include: varying mass, varying surface area, varying shape.)
A new packet of materials will be given to each team.
2. Each team must submit:

  • a new graphic representation of the seed design with labeling of materials used
  • lab notes recording "modifications" made to original design in terms of type and amount of material
  • reasons for these "modifications" for the redesigned "artificial seeds"

3. Each cooperative team builds "artificial seeds" for testing purposes and constructs data chart for new trial runs on the redesigned seed.
4. Perform trial runs.
5. Data is recorded on each team's chart.
6. Feedback and suggestions are recorded on bottom of chart given by team members and classroom peers.

POST-ACTIVITY
After all teams run trial tests, each cooperative team will write a conclusion from the data collected on the modifications of the redesigned seed. Emphasis should be placed on the performance level of this seed in comparison to that of the original design. Each individual member of the cooperative teams will reflect on the learning experience by writing comments on Student Self-Evaluation Worksheet.

Student Work


Student Work - 1
Student Work - 2
Student Work - 3

Resource/Materials

Student Worksheets

Standards and Instruction

Standard Area Correlations and Connections to Instruction:

MST1.SI1 : Connection to instruction: Background information on seed formation and development can be reinforced. The following plant units are connected: Sexual Reproduction and the Flower; Formation of Seeds and Fruits; Fruit Types; Seed Dispersal. Emphasis is placed on the scientific method and the process of inquiry.

Students need to know how to:

  • make accurate and concise observations
  • perform a controlled "test" with many trials and do it uniformly and consistently
  • measure distance and time and process data
  • generate and analyze results
  • work effectively and work cooperatively in teams
  • plan, generate, and carry out technical designs
  • communicate with team members and with class members

MST1.SI2 Connection to instruction: This is evident, for example, when students design an "artificial wind-dispersed" seed from a limited amount and type of materials. The artificial seed will be dispersed by moving air generated from a fan (the wind). Students will assess the performance of the artificial seed when dispersed by the moving air and see how varying the design affects the overall performance of the wind dispersal method.

Connection to instruction: Students will use mathematical skills in terms of measurement, collection of data, and analysis of this data. Students will use engineering design skills learned from their technology classes. Students will practice communication skills of speaking and listening within their cooperative teams while designing, constructing, testing, evaluating their results with each other and to the class. Reinforces all skills of the scientific method and the inquiry process of science.

Students need to know how to:

  • develop a design plan
  • carry out test runs to evaluate the quality of a product
  • observe, record, analyze, evaluate, and redesign
  • present and assess a design after controlled tests to be able to develop a "redesign plan"


MST3.07.SP10 and MST3.07.RE5 Connection to instruction: This is evident, for example, when students use line graphs and bar graphs to represent relationships with data collected. Students construct graphic representations of seed design using the pre-determined packet of man-made materials. Skills used in this learning experience are connected directly to the mathematical courses students are enrolled in concurrently.

Students need to know how to:

  • graph on paper
  • if access to computers, be able to use graphing software as a tool to construct simple technical drawings
  • measure time and distance accurately
  • construct data tables, graphs (spreadsheets, computer graphs)

MST4 Connection to instruction: Skills used in this learning experience reinforce the interconnectedness between the living structure and factors within the physical environment.

Students need to know how to:

  • observe, describe, compare and contrast
  • extend "the artificial" setting of the activity to real-world scenarios

MST5.ED1 Connection to instruction: Skills used by students are integrated into the technology courses taken by students.

Students need to:

  • reflect on mother nature's design of the wind-dispersed seed and design and model a student-designed wind-dispersed seed
  • test the student-designed wind-dispersed seeds using a fan and evaluate results from performance of seed
  • provide possible modifications of the student-designed seed for better results

MST6.OT6 Connection to instruction:

Students need to:

  • measure the distances traveled by student-designed seeds
  • use the data from all seed trials to propose a modification to the original design

MST7.SR2 Connection to instruction: Integrates skills in mathematics, concept of motion in physics, and reinforces protocol for technical design.

Working Effectively: Students contribute to the work of a cooperative team, designing and carrying out procedures, managing responsibilities of team members, and staying on task, whether working alone or as part of a group.

Generating and Processing Information: Developing ideas for a proposed design, investigating ideas, collecting data from test runs, and showing relationships in the data.

Realizing Ideas: Constructing student-designed seeds, arriving at a solution, and evaluating the result.

Presenting Results: Using a variety of media to present the solution and to communicate the results (drawings, three-dimensional models, graphs and data charts, computer graphs and spreadsheets, written materials, and videotape of student-designed seeds trial runs.)

ELA1.SW2 Connection to instruction: Students practice skills learned in English class to communicate observations, ideas, and knowledge constructed.

Students need to know how to:

  • communicate both in oral and written forms
  • listen

CDOS3a Connection to instruction: Students practice skills that can be used in application to real-world engineering and design careers. It is an excellent opportunity to engage in the process through the task assigned.

Students need to know how to:

  • listen, read, understand, analyze, apply, communicate, and solve to accomplish task
  • work cooperatively

Instructional/Environment Modifications


Depending on students and time constraints, cooperative teams may only be able to design one seed. Modifications for a redesign may have to be given in a written or oral format. Students may be encouraged to perform the "redesign" as a homework assignment.

If the classroom is small and space limitation is a factor, the type and speed adjustment of the fan must be considered for the test runs.

If inclusion students are involved in the activity, the type and amount of artificial materials in the packet for the artificial seed design may be limited. Help with the manipulation of materials may have to be given.

If the learning experience is being performed by gifted and talented students, a "seed by design" contest for the most distance traveled by a seed may take place.

Time Required

Day 1 Pre-activity of sample seed packet 40 minutes
Day 2 Trial test runs of sample seed packet 40-60 minutes
Day 3/4 Student-designed "artificial wind-dispersed" seeds and trial runs 40-60 minutes
Day 5/6 The redesign of "artificial wind-dispersed" seeds;
Team and (Classroom Peer) Feedback;
Analysis and Conclusion
80 minutes

Resources

FOR THE STUDENT:

  • stopwatch
  • metric ruler
  • unlimited use of glue/masking tape/scotch tape
  • sample packet of naturally-occurring wind-dispersed seeds
  • packet of artificial materials
    suggestions:
    1 small cork
    6 small post-its (38 mm X 50 mm)
    3 rubber bands
    sheet of composition paper
    sheet of newspaper
    2 feathers
    4 paper clips
    piece of Saran wrap (12 cm X 12 cm)
    2 cotton balls
    3 sheets of Kimi wipes
    1 ft. sewing thread
    1 ft. fishing line
    ball of clay
    2 tags (1cm x 3cm) with string attached
    1 piece of tissue paper

FOR THE TEACHER:

  • fan(s)

Assessment Plan

Students are assessed for Pre-activity (Day 1 and 2) by Class Participation Criteria Checklist.

If graphs are assigned, students are assessed by Graphing Rubric Checklist.

Students are assessed for student-designed "artificial wind-dispersed" seeds by "Seeds By Design" Rubric.

Students are assessed as cooperative workers within the teams.

Students are assessed for level of impact and meaning to them by the Reflection-Self Evaluation Sheet.

Student Work

The types of student works submitted include:

  • sample of student-designed "artificial wind-dispersed" seed projects (original design)
  • sample of student-designed "artificial wind-dispersed" seed projects (redesigns)
  • graphic of original student-designed "artificial wind-dispersed" seeds
  • lab notes on types and amount of materials used to create seeds
  • sample data sheets of student-designed "artificial wind-dispersed" seeds
  • sample written conclusion indicating whether the test runs support or refute the seed design
  • sample of student "self-evaluation" reflection sheet
  • videotape containing trial runs
  • sample graphs

All work submitted has been assessed according to the rubric worksheets attached. This is evidence that supports the level of student performance attained.
Student Work - 1
Student Work - 2
Student Work - 3

Reflection

Comments from Joyce G. Valenti

  • Click Here to Read Author's Reflection
  • Author

    Joyce G. Valenti, Windham Ashland-Jewett Central School


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