Lesson Plan: Ornamental Corn Inquiry (Grades K-2)
Posted: Monday, November 4th, 2013
by Valerie Joyner
Ornamental corn, available this time of year, is great for setting up an inquiry activity for your primary (K-2) students to explore. If the weather in your part of California is still warm, you can begin this activity right away. However, due to the size and diversity of weather conditions around California, you may need to purchase a few ears of ornamental corn now and save the activity until the spring when the weather warms up.
Focus Question: What are the kernels on an ear of corn?
Materials you will need:
1 or more ears of dry (colorful) ornamental corn (available in the fall)
1 or more shoe box size plastic containers (1per ear of corn)
My Corn Book – 1 per student
Depending on your students’ writing ability, you may have to take dictation for the students, make sentence strips for them to copy using their words, or allow students to write on their own.
Access to water and sunlight
Chart paper and pens
Have your students sit as a group in a large circle. Hold up an ear of ornamental corn and ask the students what they think it is. Do not tell them it is an ear of corn. Pass the corn around and ask students to touch and smell it. Once everyone has had a chance to observe it, ask them what they think it is. This can be confusing for some students as they may not understand why an ear of corn is dry and colorful. Allow students to come up with their own ideas.
EXPLORE, EXPLAIN and ELABORATE:
Explain to the students that they are going to be scientists and discover what happens when they put the corn in water and watch it for a few weeks. But, first they must observe it closely and then predict what they think will happen.
My Corn Book
Step 1 – Distribute ears of corn to each group. Allow students time to observe and discuss their observations with each other. When they are finished they should record their observations and color the ear of corn as accurately as possible based on their observations. You will need to tell the students this is not the time to take artistic freedom and color the corn pink, blue, or rainbow-colored.
Notebook Page 1
Today I observed an ear of corn. It is _________________________________
Step 2 – Have students place an ear of corn in a plastic container and add 1” of water. Allow students time to predict what they think will happen and record their predictions.
You may be very surprised with their predictions. In the past my students’ predictions have been everywhere from it will turn yellow so you can eat it, to it will pop, to it will turn the water a different color, but seldom do they predict it will grow. Allow all predictions.
Notebook Page 2
We put the corn in water. Then we put it in the sun. I predict the corn will ________________________________________, because ______________________________________________.
Step 3 – Place the corn in a warm sunny location.
On a daily basis, put the corn in the sunny location and check the water level and quality. You will need to rinse the ears of corn every day or two to ensure that it does not become cloudy or smelly. Within a few days students will notice that the kernels are getting larger and soon begin to sprout roots.
When the students notice roots sprouting, bring the corn inside and allow students to observe and discuss what is happening. After they have had a chance to observe have them record their observations through writing/dictation and by coloring the ear of corn on the pages accurately.
Notebook Pages 3-5(or more)
Today we observed the corn. It has ________________________________________________.
Repeat Step 3 allowing students to record their observations each time.
Within a few weeks the ear of corn will send up green shoots in addition to the roots. Often the kernels will begin to fall off the ear with their attached roots and shoots. When this happens the students become aware that the ear of corn is actually a group of seeds.
Step 4 – Final Observation
Allow students to make one final observation. Discuss the word “results” and ask the students to share verbally their “results”. Have students record their results in their Corn Book.
Last Notebook Page
Results: When you put an ear of corn in water it ______________________________________________________. I think the kernels on an ear of corn are _____________________________________, because ___________________________________________.
Use the students’ results page to check for understanding. The students should understand that an ear of corn contains the seeds of corn.
- Predictions are difficult for students this age. They may want to copy each other’s ideas and ask an adult for advice. Remind them that a prediction is their own thinking based on what they already know.
- When students color in their ears of corn remind them that they need to color it the same as their observations.
- Depending on students’ writing abilities, either have them record the date of each observation or add the date for them. It is important to establish proper recording skills as early as possible.
- Plant the seeds in the school garden or in a paper cup.
- Plant the ears of corn in the school garden or planter box and continue to observe
- Measure the shoots, then record and graph measurements
- Compare and contrast the results of all the ears of corn.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…