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Seed Production - Schoolyard


Frank Taylor AEFTaylor@aol.com


Origin of the activity:
The lab was originally written as an example of a teacher designed activity that a teacher might develop when using the MINTS guide "An Inquiry-based Field Guide to Southwestern Virginia Schoolyards. MINTS -- M useum I nquiry-based N atural history guides for T eacherS is a project being developed at the Virginia Tech Museum of Natural History and funded by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Precollege Science Education Initiative for Science Museums. The guide was written to empower teachers, K-12, to design their own inquiry-oriented lessons to successfully lead students in the exploration of local natural history through hands-on scientific investigations using the schoolyard as a laboratory. The guide provides: 1) background information on organisms found in particular schoolyard habitats, explaining what they look like, how to find them, interesting life features, and their natural history; and 2) mini-field trips plans for the exploration of the schoolyard where the teacher will lead students, using inquiry techniques, to discover the unique organisms and features of our local environment. It is expected that the guide will be published late in 1996 or early 1997. If you are interested in receiving information about the guide's publication, please contact:

Alan Raflo
Virginia Tech Museum of Natural History
Virginia Tech
428 North Main Street
Blacksburg, Virginia 24141-0542

or E-mail : araflo@vt.edu

About the activity:
--This activity is designed to: involve students in doing science outdoors, making hypotheses, having students work in groups, have students collect quantitative data at little or no cost, and involve students in analyzing data and speculating on results.
--This activity can be integrated into units on ecology or stand alone as an experimental design activity.
-- Divide students into groups of 3 or 4. You may need to show students some examples of seeds produced by plants in your area. Use a coat hanger stretched into the shape of a square to define a sampling site. Encourage students to be thorough in their collecting process. You may wish to consider and discuss uncontrolled variables that could impact results.
--Table 1 is for an individual group's data. After the class returns from collecting outdoors, make a data table on the board or overhead tranparency for class data and calculate averages. Students will record the class averages on Table 2.
--This activity can be conducted in one class period.


How to get help with the activity:
If you have questions about this activity or would like your students to exchange information or correspond with other students doing the same activity, please e-mail: Frank Taylor AEFTaylor@aol.com



Seed Production: Lawn versus Meadow


Frank Taylor AEFTaylor@aol.com
Students, working in groups, will toss a coat hanger, bent open in the shape of a square, to randomly designate a quadrat to sample in a) a lawn habitat and b) a meadow habitat. Group members will carefully collect all the seeds that they can find in both habitats and place them in labeled plastic bags. Seeds from each habitat will be examined and weighed upon return to the classroom.

Your Hypothesis:

Group Data:
Data Table 1



Class Data: Calculate the averages from all groups

Data Table 2.



Discussion Questions:
In which habitat did we find the greatest mass of seeds?
In which habitat did we find the greatest variety of seeds?
How is the quantity of seeds produced important to wildlife?
What kinds of organisms might feed on these seeds?
How do you think the our data would change if we sampled different times of the year?
At what time of the year would we find the most seeds?
Challenge: Calculate the total mass of seeds in the whole lawn and in the meadow areas. (What information will you need in order to answer this question?)

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