Discovery Unit Kits

Boy holding plantThe Discovery Unit curriculum for Grades K–7 allows students to learn about plants and ecology through a two-week, hands-on classroom unit, and then connects their knowledge during an outdoor investigation. Each kit contains a set of comprehensive classroom lesson plans and supporting supplies.

A $25 non-refundable circulation fee is required to borrow a Discovery Unit kit. 

All upper elementary units (Grades 5–7) include a “real world” problem that students investigate and then apply their knowledge toward solving. The units offer students an opportunity to take positive action on a related environmental issue.

Discovery Units were developed and tested by a collaboration of five public gardens, including the Missouri Botanical Garden. Each Discovery Unit is linked to National Science Standards. This project was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

Media Resource Kits
Media resource kits are also available for the Discovery Units geared for Grades 2–4: Life Cycles of Plants; Plant Growth; Diversity of Life; Interdependence; and Plants, People, and the Environment. The circulation fee for media kits is $10 each ($5 if they are checked out in conjunction with the accompanying Discovery Unit kit). Media resource kits include:

  • Biology of Plants video or DVD
  • interactive student CD-ROMS
  • teacher’s guide
  • seeds or experiment supplies

 

Discovery Unit Kits

Discover Plants: From Top to Bottom
Grades K–1

What is a plant? Are plants alive? This unit explores these questions and allows students to discover plants and their parts through fun activities like playing “Plant Twister”, germinating seeds, and “beating a leaf”. Students learn that not only are plants alive, but they are also a critical part of our ecosystem.

Life Cycles of Plants: Growing Through Changes
Grades 2–4

Students explore the pattern of change that occurs during the life cycle of a plant. Students plant Wisconsin Fast Plants® and peanuts to compare the length of their life cycles. They dissect flowers, fruits, and seeds, and make a sandwich bag garden.
Media Resource Kit available!

Girl gardening

Plant Growth: A Partnership of Parts
Grades 2–4

Students observe root and stem systems up close with seeds they germinate, and design an experiment researching plant growth. Several hands-on activities allow students to learn about water movement in plants. Students “become” a tree to learn how plant parts must work together to obtain the resources each plant needs.
Media Resource Kit available!

Plant Reproduction: Saving Endangered Plants
Grades 5–7

Students investigate the endangered Alula, a plant endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. This species has most likely stopped producing seeds because its native pollinator is extinct. Students grow and pollinate their own Wisconsin Fast Plants® as part of their investigation. Outdoors students observe pollinators at work and investigate floral characteristics that attract pollinators.

Photosynthesis: A Lifeline for the World
Grades 5–7

Through an introduction to the real world problem of world hunger, students learn about the process of photosynthesis—the unique ability of plants to produce their own food from the sun’s energy. They uncover some of the environmental reasons for hunger and look at current agricultural research that may help to increase food production. Student investigations and experiments develop their skills in seeking out new information and critical thinking.

Plant Adaptations: Key to Survival
Grades 5–7

Students examine special features that allow plants to survive in dry or wet conditions, in poor soil, in shade, and through the winter. As they study these tough environments, they discover that every living organism must meet certain basic needs to live, and that each has a unique set of adaptations that allow it to survive in its environment. Students investigate the real world problems of city trees, which have a special set of human-induced challenges.

 

Plants and Me: Living Together
Grades K–1

This unit gives young children direct experiences to enable them to link their food and clothing with the green plants that are used to create them. They gain an understanding of the basic needs that all plants have, and put this understanding to work as they raise a variety of plants in the classroom.

Diversity of Life: Plants Alike and Different
Grades 2–4

This unit encourages exploration of North American biomes in a new way. Students follow Sasparillo, the “armadillo from Amarillo” on a trek through deserts, prairies, woodlands, and temperate forests using plant specimens and travel brochures.
Media Resource Kit available!

Interdependence: Links Between Plants and Animals
Grades 2–4

Through an investigation that begins in the classroom and moves into the forest, students explore the interdependence of life in a deciduous forest community. They discover how animals use and depend on the plants as well as ways woodland plants depend on animals for survival.
Media Resource Kit available!

Plants, People, and the Environment
Grades 2–4

Students explore plant needs and methods of gardening. They sprout seeds to place in a garden of their own design. Students discover that a garden is a place to learn the ways plants are a part of our lives, how plants grow, and the actions we take to care for them.
Media Resource Kit available!

Systems: Investigating the Delicate Balance
Grades 5–7

Students explore ecosystems through a variety of hands-on activities while learning the value of producers (plants), consumers (animals), decomposers and abiotic elements (sun, water and soil) within an environment. Students apply the knowledge they have gained to build a model of a space outpost which they design to support life in a balanced, sustainable ecosystem.

Keeping our Heritage Alive
Grades 5–7

Students explore the effects of large-scale natural disasters (such as volcanic eruptions) and human activities on the environment. They begin to understand that humans make choices every day that affect the Earth. They explore vegetation native to the area of the school prior to human settlement. Other investigations involve examining pillbug behavior in harsh conditions, digging to explore the seed bank, and classification activities.

Girl investigating leaves