Botany Project Ideas

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Would you like to teach your 6th through 12th grade students about botany? They will work in duos and small groups as they utilize their analytical and cooperative skills, and they will learn reasons plants are put into various classifications.

Why Botany?

It was the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus himself who once said 'if a tree dies, plant another in its place.' Botany is a subfield of biology and involves the study and classification of plants and their characteristics. Your middle and high school students will work in pairs and small groups as they learn more about how scientists organize plants into logical groupings. They will take a gallery walk to learn about some famous botanists, design their very own botanical gardens complete with sketches and dioramas, and create educational videos to help try and save our crucial and endangered rainforests.

Famous Botanists Gallery Walk

  • Materials: online access, paper, sticky notes, posterboard, writing utensils

This gallery walk project will allow your students to learn in an interactive way about the important contributions of some legendary botanists.

  • Before class begins, post various sticky notes around the class with questions that will encourage your students to think about the topic of botany. Questions might include:
    • How do scientists use algae to create biofuels that could replace fossil fuels?
    • How do paleobotanists study plant fossils in much the same way that paleontologists study animal fossils?
    • How did the Irish Potato Famine lead to the study of plant pathology?
    • What are some of the benefits of scientists studying plant genetics, and how did Gregor Mendel lead the way in this field of research?
    • How can scientists study agronomy and crop science to make food more affordable and available as the world's population increases?
  • Also place botany posters and botany quotes around the room.
  • At the start of class, initially divide your students into small groups of 4-6.
  • Next divide your classroom into ten different stations related to botany. Six of the stations will be dedicated to the following six botanists, while the other four will be related to general knowledge about botany. Have your students research the following six famous botanists. When they are through, instruct them to find six more botanists.
    • Carolus Linnaeus
    • George Washington Carver
    • Gregor Mendel
    • Leonardo da Vinci
    • Beatrix Potter
    • Joseph Hooker
  • Allow your students to take the gallery walk in their small groups around your classroom.
  • When they have completed the gallery walk, meet back in one large group to discuss their findings.
  • Moderate a lively debate in which the students decide which of the ten stations was the most interesting.
  • Have each group write a skit of 10 to 12 minutes in length about a different famous botanist. Be sure to include the fact that these botanists proposed new ideas that often caused people to vociferously disagree with them.

Optional

Invite a botanist from a local college or university to come and speak to your class about the subject of botany.

Discussion Questions:

  • Who do you consider the greatest botanist ever, and why?
  • What new challenges do you think botanists will face in the future?

Design Your Own Botanical Garden

  • Materials: butcher paper, drafting paper, or sketching paper; online devices; writing instruments

Spectacular botanical gardens are ideal ways for scientists and plant lovers to showcase botany to the general public. In this project, your students will design their very own botanical gardens.

  • Start out by dividing your students into small groups of 3-5.
  • Now have them research the five following botanical gardens:
    • Montreal Botanical Garden
    • Royal Botanic Gardens
    • Toronto Botanical Garden
    • United States Botanic Garden
    • West Virginia Botanic Garden
  • Next have them discover and research five more botanical gardens.

At this point allow them to work together in their small groups to design their botanical gardens. Factors to consider but are not limited to include:

  • Arbors
  • Boating paths (length, width, types of boats)
  • Fountains
  • Greenhouses
  • Herbariums
  • Rose gardens
  • Trellises
  • Walking paths (length, width, materials)
    • When they are finished, have each group share their designs with the entire class.
    • Have the students create dioramas that replicate their sketches.
    • Instruct your students to design travel brochures that will encourage visitors to travel to your state to experience their botanical gardens.

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