Seed Dispersal 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.

The following hands-on group projects for your middle school students will assist them in learning about seed dispersal, and help them understand why it is so important to the continuation of plant species.

Why Seed Dispersal Projects?

The concept of seed dispersal is absolutely crucial to the survival of plants in nature. Without seed dispersal, the chances of a plant species reproducing regularly are greatly reduced. The following four participatory group projects will assist your middle schoolers as they learn the five major methods of seed dispersal. By working in groups, they can learn from each other as well as from books and online sources. This will contribute to their understanding of how these methods of seed dispersal succeed in their objective.

Seed Dispersal Big Wall Mural

Materials: colored markers, pencils, and pen; Internet access; mural paper; tape

A big wall mural can add color and interest to your classroom setting for perhaps a month or even longer. Allow your students to work in small groups of 3-5 to research the five main methods of seed dispersal. While they are researching seed dispersal, tape the mural paper to various free portions of your classroom walls. Then allow them to begin drawing on the mural. When a new drawing is added to the mural, have that artist give a short presentation as to what the drawing depicts. As an ongoing supplement to the project, have your students keep journal entries chronicling how the mural has appeared to change over the course of time.

Collect Plant Seeds in Nature

Materials: labels, logbook, markers, tape, zippered plastic bags

To fully understand the concept of seed dispersal, it is best to go beyond the Internet and the pages of a book and find actual seeds in nature. In this project, your students will collect actual seeds they find outdoors. First, make sure your students know they are never to go into deep woods alone without adult supervision. They can look by themselves around their home, neighbors' homes (with permission), schools, and community parks. They can also check their pets fur for burs (which are seeds) and other types of seeds. Obvious examples of seeds include dandelions, acorns, and sunflowers. They can do research to learn of less obvious examples. Have the students put each sample in a zippered plastic bag, and label each sample. It is important they also note where they found each sample, as this is critical to them understanding the concept of seed dispersal. Have them ask themselves, 'how did that seed get there to that location' and 'which of the five main methods of seed dispersal was employed?' As the days move along, have the students place the findings around your classroom, so students can observe and discuss them. Next, have your students create one large logbook featuring all the different seeds they find, and place them alphabetically or in some other sort of logical order.

Seed Dispersal Experts

Materials: colored markers, Internet access, posterboard

First divide your students into five groups, and let each group know they are to study in detail one of the five main methods of seed dispersal (animals, force, gravity, water, and wind). Have your students try to find as many details about their respective method as possible. Some questions you could pose to your students include:

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