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Common weeds become the basis of an authentic outdoor learning experience in which students develop their observation and research skills as they conduct a plant survey in the schoolyard. This activity offers many cross-curricular connections and is easily adaptable to various grade levels.
This activity could be used to launch a plant science unit that examines plant structure, growth and adaptation. Students could compare growing conditions between dandelions and plantains and closely examine and describe important plant structures such as leaves and flowers. Math outcomes related to statistics and probability can also be addressed in the collection and presentation of field data to peers.
Plants like plantain have long been used in traditional medicines and a local community member could be invited to accompany students on a "healing" walk where they learn about medicinal plants.
An action project associated with this lesson could have students researching the role of herbicides in declining pollinator populations and creating an awareness campaign that encourages local citizens to stop using weed killers.
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