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Maricopa Native Seed Library: Lesson Plans

Lesson plans

The seed library has developed two lesson plans that can be used or adapted, one for high school biology courses and one for lower undergraduate non majors biology courses. The intent of the lesson plans are to teach students about native plants utilizing the demonstration gardens we have built at Scottsdale Community College and the Red Mountain Campus of Mesa Community College.

SONORAN DESERT NATIVE PLANTS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THEIR IMPORTANCE


Introduction: To introduce high school students to native plants of the Sonoran desert. 

Purpose and Rationale: Native plants are critical components of ecosystems, providing a variety of free services including food, flood and erosion control, purifying water, and storing carbon. They also play vital roles in local food webs, providing valuable food and cover for wildlife. The services native plants provide make life possible as we know it. It is important that students understand the value that native plants provide, so that they can be informed citizens about the natural world, and hopefully help advocate for and preserve it. 

Learning objectives: By the end of the lesson, students will be able to (1) articulate why native plants are vital to functioning ecosystems and (2) name at least five Sonoran desert native plants and their wildlife value.

Course and Setting: High school biology courses that can visit one our demonstration gardens in person at either Scottsdale Community College or Mesa Community College Red Mountain campus

Materials and methods:

Step 1: Students view two short YouTube videos about ecosystem services and native plants (see links in references) read the native plant infographic, and write a reflection prompted by the following questions: What have you heard about native plants before viewing this material? What stood out to you the most from the material? What do you want to know more about regarding native plants?

Step 2: Students read through the field guide to the garden they will visit (see links below). Each student makes a list of five plants they want to make sure to view.

Step 3: Students tour the garden and locate the five plants on their list. They either take photos or make drawings of the plants.

Step 4: Students create a video or poster that includes their pictures or artwork of the five plants as well as a reflection on their wildlife value

References

Audubon Society. 2021. Why native plants are important. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m7cINoKCwo 

California Academy of Sciences. 2021. Why biodiversity is important. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCH1Gre3Mg0 

Maricopa Native Seed Library. 2021. Demonstration gardens. Retrieved from https://libguides.maricopa.edu/seed/garden 

Maricopa Native Seed Library. 2021. Native plant infographic. Retrieved from https://libguides.maricopa.edu/seed/whynative 

 

 

PLANT-POLLINATOR INTERACTIONS IN THE SONORAN DESERT

 

Objective: To introduce non-majors biology students to the process and importance of pollination and learn about pollinators of the Sonoran Desert.

Purpose and Rationale: Native plants are critical components of ecosystems, providing a variety of free services including food, flood and erosion control, purifying water, and storing carbon. Many if not all Sonoran desert plants rely on a pollinator for reproduction. In this lesson, students will be introduced to the process of pollination, make predictions about pollinators given “pollinator syndromes” and visit the demonstration garden to test their predictions.

Learning objectives: By the end of the lesson, students will be able to (1) Describe the pollination process (2) Test a prediction regarding pollinator syndromes by conducting observations in the demonstration garden.

Course and Setting: Non majors biology courses that can visit the demonstration gardens person at either Scottsdale Community College or Mesa Community College Red Mountain campus.

Materials and methods:

Step 1: Students view a video on pollination (see link in reference section below) and write a reflection. In the Sonoran desert, what types of organisms might serve as pollinators? 

Step 2: Students view the field guide to the demonstration garden they will visit and select two plants. Study the flowers of those plants. What type of pollinator syndrome might best fit each of the plants? Make a prediction about what types of pollinators visit those plants.

Step 3: Visit the demonstration garden and take time observing your chosen plants and any visitors to flowers. Take observations of visits and upload them to inaturalist. Work with your teacher to try to get a positive identification of the flower visitors.

Step 4. Once you have positive ID’s of your pollinators, write a reflection about your predictions. Were your predictions supported by your observations? Why or why not?  

References

Maricopa Native Seed Library. 2021. Demonstration gardens. Retrieved from https://libguides.maricopa.edu/seed/garden 

North Carolina State Extension. 2020. Pollination. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dpsZOc1b4M 

USFS. 2020. Pollinator Syndromes. Retrieved from https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/What_is_Pollination/syndromes.shtml