- Big Ideas
- Essential Questions
- Content Outcomes Addressed
- Standards Addressed
- Pre- and Post-Assessment
- Investigation 1: Parts of Grass
- What enables grass to survive?
- What would be the effect on the grass plant if it were missing one of its parts?
- How would the loss of grass affect animals? The environment?
Content Outcomes Addressed
- Students will understand that each part of a grass plant serves a function and allows the grass to survive and reproduce.
- Students will understand that grass provides food for many animals, and grass roots keep soil from eroding.
- Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS1.A (K-5), LS1.B (K-8), LS1.C (K-5), LS2.A (K-5), PS3.D (3-5)
- Science and Engineering Practices: 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8
- Cross-cutting Concepts: 1, 2, 6
- Writing: W.K.2, W.K.7, W.K.8, W.1.2, W.1.7, W.1.8, W.2.2, W.2.7, W.2.8, W.3.2, W.3.7, W.3.8, W.3.10, W.4.2, W.4.7, W.4.8, W.4.9, W.4.10, W.5.2, W.5.7, W.5.8, W.5.9, W.5.10, W.6.7, W.6.8, W.6.9, W.6.10, W.7.7, W.7.8, W.7.9, W.7.10, W.8.7, W.8.8, W.8.9, W.8.10
- Reading: R.K.1, R.1.1, R.2.1, R.3.1, R.4.1, R.5.1, R.6.3, R.7.3, R.8.3
- Speaking and Listening: SL.K.1, SL.K.2, SL.K.5, SL.1.1, SL.1.2, SL.1.5, SL.2.1, SL.2.2, SL.2.5, SL.3.1, SL.3.2, SL.3.5, SL.4.1, SL.4.2, SL.4.5, SL.5.1, SL.5.2, SL.5.5, SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1
National Geography Standards: 8, 14
The grass family contains over 9,000 species spread all over the planet. This type of plant is able to survive in varying climates and serves as a food source for a vast number of diverse species. Humans use grass for food (corn, wheat, rice, and oats are all from the grass family) and are even experimenting to find a way to make plastics! (See: http://www.technologyreview.com/demo/515486/plastic-from-grass/.) Although grass has a very simple structure, it has been able to survive in places where other plants have not, due to its structure and biochemistry. The grass plant has some parts that are not immediately visible at first glance. Each part has its own function that helps the plant to thrive.
Related to the lesson on rain and compacted soils (Unit 4, Lesson 4) grass needs loose soil so that its roots can access air, water can collect in soil pores for roots to soak up, and roots can spread out. Human activity that compacts soil, even if the activity does not remove the grass, can ultimately destroy the plant by deteriorating the quality of the soil. Since grass roots are instrumental in preventing erosion, human activities must be carefully assessed for their impact on soil compaction.
- blade: the leaf that grows out of the side of the stem
- culm: the main stem of the grass plant; it carries water from the roots to the blade where food is made.
- rhizome: an underground stem that produces roots as well as shoots that become new plants; usually grows horizontally
- roots: anchor the plant to the ground, absorb water and nutrients from the soil, support the stem, and store food
- stolon: a horizontal, aboveground stem that produces roots and shoots
- flower: part of the plant where reproduction takes place; sometimes they look like small leaves.
- erosion: the process by which water, ice, wind, and gravity reshapes the land by moving rocks, soil, and other weathered material
Pre- and Post-Assessment
- To assess prior knowledge, ask students to draw a diagram of a grass plant and label its parts. Repeat this activity for post-assessment.
- Ask students to write or draw predictions of what they think would happen if grass disappeared from their town.
- Grass consists only of a single leaf.
Investigation 1: Parts of Grass
How do the parts of the grass plant contribute to the plant’s survival?
- Tools for digging up grasses
- Magnifying glasses
- Notebooks, pens/pencils
- Grass Plant Parts Diagram (print out from Resources, above right)
- Hand out copies of the Grass Plant Parts Diagram (see Resources, above right) to the students or post a copy of it so that the students can see it.
- Instruct the students to carefully dig up a small section of grass, shake off as much dirt as possible, and examine the plant with their magnifying glasses. If students have their own copies of the diagram showing grass plant parts, they should use it to identify the various parts on the grass plant they dug up. If the diagram was posted as a guide, students should draw a sketch of the grass plant in their notebooks and use the diagram to label the parts.
- Have students make observations of areas with grass and without. Are there noticeable differences in the two areas? (Think about wildlife, what the soil is like, etc.) Students should record their observations in their notebooks.
Each part of the grass serves a function that allows the grass to survive and reproduce. Grass is important because it helps keep land from eroding and provides food for many creatures. Note that the root system not only helps the grass grow but also prevents soil erosion by holding the dirt in place.
Discussion Questions (Students should record the answers in their notebooks.)
- What would happen to the environment if there were no grass? (wind/water erosion)
- How would the loss of grasses affect animals? (They would need to move to another place or die without food.)
- What if grass was missing one of its parts? The stem? The flower? The rhizomes?