STEM Designing Hand Pollinators for the Grapevine Botanic Gardens

We visited the Grapevine Botanic Gardens to learn all about pollination. We learned that most flowers are pollinated by natural pollinators in their environment. But some plants that are not native to the area do not have natural pollinators here in Grapevine. For those plants they need to use hand pollination to allow for the plant to make seeds. They need our help to engineer hand pollinators for some of their non-native plants.

Then we spent a day building our schema in our plan stage of the engineering design cycle. We used blend spaces to learn more about the field of Agricultural Engineering, Pollination, Integrated Pest Management, and Hand Pollination.
Blend Space Lessons
Agricultural Engineering:
Hand Pollination:
Integrated Pest Management

For the past three days we have been working on the Honeybrook Farm Apple Orchard Play for our STEM unit. The play taught us all about Integrated Pest Management in a real world apple orchard setting. We started the play by looking at the 4 seasons and what the orchard would look like for that season. They we watched a video about integrated pest management. video Then they decided on roles in the play. They practiced the lines and made props for the play. Today we filmed the play. They did an amazing job. I hope you enjoy it. Play

Today for STEM we started to look at properties of materials we might want to use for our hand pollinators. They were given a bag of materials and they had to brainstorm as a group all the properties of each group. Then they had to determine which materials would be useful in the collection and dispersal of pollen. They did this in the Word Mover App. Check out a couple of their tree maps.


For STEM today we tested materials to see if they would be useful in our hand pollinator project. We first decided how we were going to test the materials so that they would be fair tests and the results from our tests would be accurate. We decided on a light dip and then 3 taps for dropping. We used baking soda to emulate the pollen in flowers. They concluded that the pipe cleaner and the pom pom were the most successful materials for picking up and dropping off the pollen. They even discovered the pipe cleaner when rolled like a coiled snake would pick up even more pollen. They said it was because the surface area was larger.
external image proxy?*

external image proxy?*

external image proxy?*

external image proxy?*

external image proxy?*

Today for STEM we looked at the structures of 4 flowers. We discussed where the pollen would be located and what special properties their hand pollinator would have to posses to get the job of pollination done. The four flowers we were looking at are the Poppy
external image poppy.jpg

the Dutchman's Pipe
external image duch.jpg

Jack in the Pulpit
external image jack.jpg

Bucket Orchid
external image bucket.jpg

Then I showed them the models we would use to emulate the flowers for our hand pollinators. For the poppy we will use an open dish. For the Dutchman's Pipe we will use a test tube. For
Jack in the Pulpit we will use a test tube with an index card bent over the top. Lastly for the Bucket Orchid we are using PVC pipe. The students were put into pairs and given a model of a flower. They brainstormed designs and decided on a final design they are wanting to test tomorrow.
external image wordmover-3.jpg


Today was design and test day in STEM. We got to build our designs then test them. We then analyzed their designs and what worked and what didn't. Then they redesigned and rebuilt. They then conducted test #2. After that we had a group discussion of some things that were successful and some things that weren't. We then brainstormed solutions. Check out some of their tests and their thinking.

For our final day of STEM we built our last hand pollinator making improvements based on our knowledge of the materials and the tests we had conducted before. All of the groups picked up more pollen. They then created a movie using the App 30Hands to explain the process they went through on this STEM unit. I hope you enjoy them.