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This inquiry lesson explores the symbiotic relationship between bees and flowering plants. A hands-on approach guides students through a scientific examination of flower structures and the process of pollination. New discoveries are used to strengthen discussions about the important link between bees and food production. An understanding of the connections between pollinating insects, healthy environments and sustainability is strengthened through a series of meaningful activities in which students will:
This resource supports curriculum outcomes related to plant anatomy, entomology, symbiosis and interactions within ecosystems. Although the activities are primarily science based the lesson can also be used to deepen student knowledge of issues like sustainable agriculture and global environmental concerns.
Over recent years there has been a heightened awareness of bee-friendly gardening through the planting of native flowers. However, trees and shrubs are also very important to bees, particularly early and later in the season. Students could develop an action project where bee friendly trees like red maple or mountain ash are planted on school grounds to provide bee habitat and shade areas for humans.
A class could also organize a school showcase featuring all of the local foods that would not be available without bees. This event could highlight “ugly” fruits and vegetables with a free organic "ugly" snack to demonstrate that choosing environmentally friendly fresh food does not have to be expensive.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Good|
Students are encouraged to think independently through open-ended questioning that supports collaborative dialogue about the results of their research.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Good|
Students gain an understanding of the key role of bees in plant pollination which leads to the realization that without bees and other pollinators many wild and agricultural plants could not reproduce. Declines could occur in highly nutritious foods crops like fruits and nuts which might contribute to a global food crisis. Bee population losses are a complex issue but students do learn that reduced pesticide use can result from consumer demand for more sustainable food products.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
Exploration with a hands-on activity supports evidence-based learning about bees and their vital role in pollination. Students also become more aware of the connections between adaptations and physical structures in the natural world.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Satisfactory|
Although no specific action projects are included in the resource, there is a list of easily implemented “bee friendly” activities which support collaborative ventures like establishing an organic community garden.
|Acting on Learning: |
Learning moves from understanding issues to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community, or for the planet
An important aspect of developing a conservation ethic is the understanding of, and respect for nature. As they learn how much of the food they eat everyday has resulted from insect pollination students are more likely to reflect on their own misconceptions about bees and recognize their value to human and ecosystem health.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Poor/Not considered|
Although not included in the lesson, a teacher could examine the social impacts of catastrophic food shortages to deepen student understanding of the link between healthy environments and human health.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).|
|Personal Affinity with Earth||Good|
The plant dissection exercise fosters an appreciation of the complexities of nature. Throughout the lesson bees are treated as peaceful, vital insects which strengthens respect for these creatures when students encounter them in the wild.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
The decline is bee populations is discussed on a global scale but there are many opportunities to incorporate Canadian specific facts and figures through content like this Hinterland Who’s Who Fact sheet on Bumblebees,
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Satisfactory|
Students are asked to consider the impacts of declining bee populations on food production but the resource is limited in scope in terms of defining how pollinator habitat has been significantly reduced by urbanization.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
An effective questioning process uses scaffolding to guide students through reflections on their learning to develop questions and answers for a “Hive of Reflection” wall display.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
This resource has been developed to support science outcomes but the link between pollinators and food production should be used to promote student understanding of social issues related to sustainable agriculture and food scarcity.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
The flower dissection activity provides an opportunity for students to build upon prior learning and apply new knowledge to determine relationships between plant anatomy and insect morphology.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
|Differentiated Instruction||Poor/Not considered|
There are no specific strategies for differentiation, however there is a hands-on component to the lessons that will appeal to a variety of learners.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
The dissection activity provides an authentic hands-on learning experience. Depending on the time of year, the experiential feature of this lesson could be enhanced by taking students outside to observe bees in their natural habitat instead of the video supplied by the resource.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
|Cooperative Learning||Poor/Not considered|
Lessons are generally done as a whole class or small group activity.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Satisfactory|
There are no formal assessment strategies but the reflection questions and answers provide a valuable formative assessment tool.
|Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.|
The small groups present their answers to their reflection questions to the class which facilitates peer to peer dialogue about their findings.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
This topic is extremely timely and relevant especially as concern increases about the seriousness of declining bee populations. Students will also connect global issues and local action as they develop an awareness of the relationship between pollination and food.
|Case Studies: |
Relevant case studies are included. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore concepts in an authentic context.
|Locus of Control||Good|
The open ended discussions empowers students to continue their investigations beyond this lesson. They will be motivated to expand their understanding of bee social structure, food production and plant reproduction through additional hands-on activities.
|Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.|