In this lesson, students examine structures like roots, branches, and leaves that keep trees from blowing down. In the activity, Wind-Proof Umbrella, they use their observations to create their own tree-inspired umbrellas that stay up in the wind.
Each student will create their own wind-proof umbrella, but will need a partner to help with a few steps.
Decide if You Will Buy Playdough or Make Your Own
To make your own playdough, slowly add 2½ cups water to a mixture of 5 cups of flour and 1¼ cups of salt. Stir, then knead the dough. If it’s too sticky, add more flour.
Prepare Wind Test Station
Make a giant fan by folding a 22” x 28” sheet of poster board accordion style. If you have a two smaller sheets of poster board, tape them together, then fold.
Make one reusable umbrella stand for each student by pressing clay or playdough into the bottom of a Dixie cup. The cup should be a little more than halfway full.
Clear a big, flat area, such as a tabletop, to serve as a test station. It should be at least 36 inches across—big enough to hold four umbrellas without touching.
We've provided Umbrella Top Inspiration sheets to help students who get frustrated when they try to improve their umbrellas. We suggest you let students try on their own, providing Inspiration Sheets only to those who need help.
In this Read-Along lesson, Jin plants some sunflowers in a sunny spot and some in a shady spot, watches to see which grow best, and then figures out why. The lesson includes a short exercise where students stand up and pretend to be sunflowers, turning their faces to the sun as young sunflowers do. You can extend the lesson with the optional activity, Plants on the Move, where students observe that plants respond to light by bending toward the light source.
As an optional activity, we suggest having students observe and discuss how plants respond to light.
If you like, you can grow your own experimental plant by planting bean, sunflower, or corn seeds a week before you experiment. Buying a bean seedling or an herb such as thyme will also work.
Get your box ready by cutting a hole that’s about two inches square in one top corner. Hold the box up to the light and check for any other places the light might get in. If there are holes other than the one you cut, tape aluminum foil over them since foil is opaque and it won’t let any light through. Make sure your box is large enough so when your plant is a few inches tall, the whole thing will still to fit inside the box.
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