Flower/Pollinator Investigations

By Eve Pranis

As students actively explore blooms indoors and out, consider how to help them grasp the concept that every aspect of flowers is vital to their mission: to spread pollen and produce seeds. Students' observations will lead to fertile questions, some of which they can answer through investigations. When appropriate, consider infusing the following types of questions to prompt further thinking about flower/pollinator alliances.

* What flower characteristics do you think would be attractive to a pollinator with a short tongue? with no sense of smell?

* In a given flower, where are male parts in relation to female parts? What might be the advantages of these arrangements?

* Why might some stigmas be sticky?

* Can you tell if a pollinator is gathering nectar or pollen? What observations support your conclusion?

* What do you observe happening to flowers over time (e.g., petals wither, scent disappears)? How might this help the plant (doesn't have to expend energy to attract pollinators once eggs are fertilized)? What might these changes signal to pollinators?

* Which pollinators hover and which perch? How do the flowers they visit seem designed to support these habits?

Also consider collecting poetry, prose, or music with flower references. What attributes are mentioned that are key to attracting pollinators? What images or feelings are they meant to evoke?

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