We’ve taken a look at grocery store botany in this column before. This week we return to the produce section of the grocery store to explore an online resource that can be used in anywhere there is Internet access.
Garden teachers, science teachers, scout leaders, botanical artists and more will appreciate the educational resource, Supermarket Botany, on the website of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation. It is a free interactive tool helping students explore the botany behind the plants we store in our refrigerators.
Created by professors Geoff Burrows and John Harper, Supermarket Botany is very easy to use. The platform is composed of two parts. In one section, students can learn about plant morphology by viewing labeled photographs and reading concise descriptions. This review of plant morphology prepares students for The Challenge!, an engaging activity that makes up the other section of this resource.
The Challenge! is an exploration of 15 fruit and vegetables commonly found in the grocery store. When students begin the game, they are presented with shelves of fruit and vegetables and are asked to respond to the prompt, “What’s on the shelf?”. Students select a fruit or vegetable (i.e., plant part) and must decide if their selection is a root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit or seed. If students choose the correct answer, they are guided to a section where they can learn the technical reasons why their item is either a fruit or a vegetable. If students choose a wrong answer, a pop-up box appears explaining why their fruit or vegetable is not the option they selected. It is this part about this activity that I find especially useful. Students advance through the game understanding why their fruit or vegetable is not a root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit or seed.
Burrows and Harper designed handouts to go with students’ use of their online resource. Teachers can download these handouts free of charge.
Would you like to take The Challenge! yourself?