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5th Graders Sketch Plant Growth and Photosynthesis

For the past two years, Hoonah City Schools fifth graders have spent several months creating posters or unfolding accordion books that illustrate the growth — and occasional resuscitation — of their individual corn and bean plants. Sometimes the plants face life-threatening obstacles: the planters are dropped and the contents spewed all over the floor; water siphons disintegrate; or plants drink up far more water than expected from their water reservoirs.

Throughout it all, the students document the phenomenal resilience of corn and beans, from sprout to full-fledged leafy plant as well as root patterns for those plants that don't survive. We also explore how photosynthesis and cellular respiration work by documenting what happens when leaves are covered with brown paper or vaseline.

Finally, students learn about the fundamental difference between corn and beans; they belong to the different subclasses of monocots and dicots. This allows them to recognize and draw indigenous plants in these subclasses. Next they apply their drawing skills to documenting the inside of a flower — which will lead to why so many plants even have flowers!

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