If you are looking for ways to engage with your audience about plants instead of talking at them about plants, make note of the 5E Learning Model. Whether you teach children or adults, the 5E Learning Model provides a framework with which you can create experiences to introduce plants to new audiences.
The 5E Learning Model, created by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS 1989), helps teachers plan learning opportunities for their students so they can Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate a topic. An example of how to apply this learning model to teach students about plants is presented in Discovering Flowers in a New Light by professors Rebecca L. McNall and Randy L. Bell.
In the unit created by McNall and Bell (2004), students learn how to explore flowers, learn how to use a digital microscope, learn how to draw and record their observations, and gain experience presenting their findings to classmates.
McNall and Bell (2004) created a methodical and thoughtful series of investigations into flower anatomy, flower form and flower function. Students are engaged from beginning to end, illustrating observations, writing hypotheses, and contemplating the function of flowers and their parts. Students also become immersed in technology through their use of a digital microscope. Students use the digital microscope to look at flowers and to photograph what they see through the scope. Students then insert their images into an electronic worksheet where they label flower parts and describe the function of each structure.
To help teachers prepare for this multifaceted activity, McNall and Bell (2004) share sources for digital microscopes and resources about microscopy and hands-on activities for children.
A copy of McNall and Bell (2004) can be purchased online from the National Science Teachers Association for 99¢.
Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). 1989. New designs for elementary school science and health: A cooperative project of Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) and International Business Machines (IBM). Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt. Search your local college library
McNall, Rebecca L. and Randy L. Bell. 2004. Discovering flowers in a new light. Science and Children. 41(4): 36-39
- Strategies to Enhance Visual Literacy in Science Education
- One of the resources recommended by McNall and Bell (2004) are the gardening books for children by the National Gardening Association. These titles are available online at ArtPlantae Books, at ArtPlantae’s new online and mobile shopping option in the Square Market, and at ArtPlantae’s plant-based education section at Aurea Vista.