Published: Hands-On Botany

MakeAPlant_Workbook_Example_Page_2Hands-On Botany v1.00 is live and published up on the Internets: free on our website here, or for the low-low-price of $7 on Teachers Pay Teachers (here).


Hands-On Botany is a short class I designed for One Spark Academy, and have since taught several times. In fact, I’m going to teach it again in just a couple weeks. The focus is on the connection between form and function. Across several days of lecture and lab, students learn about three major plant structures – leaves, flowers, and fruits – and the way that the design of these structures affects their function. Everything leads up to a capstone project where students randomly generate an environment (with dice – D&D style) and then design a plant for that environment.  Very STEAM-y.

MakeAPlant_Workbook_Example_Page_4The end result is 12K words of lecture notes and activity instructions, and another 20 pages of worksheets, project booklets, and worked examples.

Having taught this class several times, I thought that writing it up would be rather straightforward. Not so. I designed the class specifically around the known abilities of the audience (OSA students) and the teacher (myself). The result was a pretty cool class, but one that was very idiosyncratic, and which would be hard for others to replicate.

I spent quite a while trying to figure out how to make this material more accessible to other audiences and other teachers, and eventually concluded that I couldn’t change much without sacrificing the sense of playful exploration that was key to the class. I did make a few changes, but for the most part, I addressed the idiosyncrasies with words – attempting to explain the goals and intentions behind various activities so that others would have the conceptual tools necessary to make this work. Hence the 12K words – twice as many as are in the Systems and Ecosystems lesson plan.

ThMakeAPlant_Workbook_Example_Page_5e final product is solid. It’s missing some of the quirkiest quirks, but still contains a fair bit of serious fun. Whew!

Here’s hoping that these ideas get out into the world where they can inform and inspire!

– Tim