Flower Dissections with Boston Educators

by Ana Maria Caballero McGuire, Children’s Education Fellow
April 6, 2016

BPS teachers with dissecting scope

Flower Dissections with Boston Educators

BPS teachers use dissecting scopes.

Using dissecting microscopes.

This past Saturday, April 2, Boston Public School educators went wild tearing apart the flowers of daffodils, magnolias, scillas, and even an early blooming Korean rhododendron. Well, perhaps tearing apart is not the right word—educators dissected the flowers in order to learn more about their reproductive structures. It is quite an experience to see pollen grains up close inside the anthers, or to make a lengthwise cut into the ovary and find the wet, white, grain-like ovules.

sequencing flower stages

BPS teachers sequence the stages in fruit development.

Teachers spent a long time dissecting their first daffodil and laying out the pistil, stamen, and petals onto a visual organizer. As they cut into these parts, teachers found themselves drawing what they saw and adding more detail to their organizers. In this manner, they experienced for themselves what students encounter doing this activity. Both teachers and students need time to learn new vocabulary, find meaningful ways of organizing new information, and share their discoveries and questions with each other.

Educators had another opportunity for learning when sequencing photographs depicting the different stages of a flower’s life cycle from bud to fruit. As each person laid out their sequence, teachers practiced using scientific vocabulary and visual evidence to back up their claims. Children often confuse a bud with fruit—think large magnolia bud versus immature fruit, or a rose bud next to a rose hip. Adults, it turns out, often share this uncertainty and need time to actively engage in “science discourse” to clarify and reframe their thinking.

flower parts organizer

Visual organizer for flower dissection

Soon the snow will melt, and flowers will burst into bloom. And after this Arboretum for Educator’s monthly exploration, those same flowers will become powerful teaching and learning tools for the children of the Boston Public Schools, through their teachers.

Join us on May 7th for our next Arboretum for Educators Monthly Exploration.

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