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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Flowers Change

Flower of Rosa orientalis
Flower of Rosa orientalis.

Grades 3-5

Children use hand lens to examine azaleas.
Children use hand lens to examine azaleas.

This two-hour field study teaches the reproductive functions in the life cycle of flowering plants, focusing on the changes we can observe as an individual flower develops into the seed-holding structure called a fruit. Students investigate flower and fruit parts and look carefully for the specific stages of change as a flower begins this gradual, often overlooked transformation from bud to flower to fruit. Participants observe, describe, and collect evidence of these life cycle developments in the Arnold Arboretum landscape.

At the beginning of the field study, students share what they already know about flowers, their function, and flower parts. Using various visuals, students learn the vocabulary they will be using throughout the field study. Students are challenged to discover all the stages of a flower’s transformation from bud to fruit during their explorations in the landscape.

Throughout their visit to the Arboretum, students encounter and interact with a large variety of flowers, examining flower parts closely and identifying the stages of change. They observe and dissect a flower, looking for and naming distinct flower parts that play a role in the flower’s function as seed maker: petals, pistil, and stamen. Students test their predictions regarding a flower’s stage of development by cutting open a bud (containing flower parts) or fruit (containing seeds) to see what is inside, using this evidence to sequence the stages. Students may also observe pollinators and examine pollen more closely, and even help fertilize a flower by transferring pollen using “bee’s legs.”

Students have opportunities to record their observations through drawings and challenge each other to correctly sequence photos of flowers, both observed in the landscape and novel. Students return to class with their recording sheets and collected flowers for further discovery.

If you are a Boston Public School teacher and would like to register for a program, email Ana Maria Caballero or call 617.384.9032.

MA Science Standards correlations:

  • 3-LS-1-1 Use simple graphical representations to show that different types of organisms have unique and diverse life cycles. Describe that all organisms have birth, growth, reproduction, and death in common, but there are a variety of ways in which these happen.
  • 3-LS4-5(MA) Provide evidence to support a claim that the survival of a population is dependent upon reproduction.
  • 4-LS1-1 Construct an argument that animals and plants have internal and external structures that support their survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.