The Private Eye - looking closely and thinking by analogy with jeweler's loupes and inquiry method for hands-on interdisciplinary science, art, writing, math, and more

Towers 'n Flowers Gallery:
Form, Function & Reproduction in Flower Families

A lesson designed by Sarah Carlson:

(Synopsis of a biology lesson plan by Sarah Carlson, science teacher at Asa Mercer Middle School, Seattle, which will appear in longer form in the forthcoming The Private Eye Companion, to be published by The Private Eye Project.)

Using The Private Eye, students go on a clue-gathering mission inside a variety of cut flowers to discover how flower forms differ, how they are the same, and how these forms help flowers reproduce. Students begin by making easy "books" to focus attention and document the process, then move into hypothesizing form-function relationships in flower structures. Students play a FormFollowsFunction "What's It?" Game along the way.

1) Each student folds a piece of heavy, white 8.5 X 11" paper in half on the short axis, traces the edge of a petri dish for a frame on the book's front cover, loupe-studies his/her particular flower's stamens and pistil carefully, and completes a loupe-drawing of stamens and pistil, filling the frame. (Double click on a student book to toggle between cover and inside page.)

2) On the inside "pages" students title one section: Stamen; another section: Pistil, and use The Private Eye questions ("What else does the pistil remind me of? the stamen? what else? what else? what else?") - to create a list of five comparisons for the male, and five for the female parts. Students couple each analogy with a "because" statement. (Note: the students' analogies will be in the form of metaphors and similes.) This process articulates the characteristics of the flower's reproductive parts and simultaneously provides clues to how the parts (the forms) might function. (See the CSTA Journal reprint on hypothesizing with The Private Eye posted in this web site.)

3) Students move into typical Private Eye hypothesizing discussions, in small groups, based on their analogy lists: "If the stamens remind me of ______(eg., octopus tentacles), how might they function like that to help the flower reproduce?"

4) Students now dissect the flower parts, louping and drawing smaller and smaller parts as they go, drawing analogies and form-function connections, hypotheses, from the analogies. With time, they can test their hypotheses.

5) Sarah Carlson has her students move to a "Form Follows Function" Game. She collects the students books and culls from them fifty or more student analogies, listing them on an overhead in random order. Students then try to figure out which clues refer to a pistil, which to stamens, and why. Can you tell what flower part these analogy clues refer to? snake tongues / sponge / fingernail / eye lashes / antennae / diving boards / paddle Why do you think so?

On to the Gallery...


Full Lesson Plan Synopsis

Book Examples A & B
Book Examples C & D
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