Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Sunflower Day!

We had SUCH a blast on Tuesday celebrating sunflowers and all that we've learned about them!

We spent our day traveling all over second grade to different sunflower stations. We first went to Ms. Arnold's room, where we were able to dissect sunflowers and see where the seeds came from. 

After that, we traveled to Mrs. Atherton's Classroom, where we weighed sunflower heads with balance scales and measured sunflower stalks with measuring tapes and unifix cubes. Mrs. Atherton borrowed a few stalks from our classroom because they were so incredibly tall- 12 feet, to be exact!

After a quick snack, we traveled to Mrs. Caporello's class and to Mrs. Leonard's class, where we explored the more artistic side of sunflowers. 

by Vincent Van Gogh

We learned about Vincent Van Gogh's many sunflower paintings and we re-created them with oil pastels!

In Mrs. Leonard's room, we wrote a class poem about sunflowers and drew sunflowers to go with it. We will post a picture of our completed poem poster soon! 

After recess and lunch, we returned to 2R to learn more about sunflower seeds. We were all able to take a closer look at different-sized sunflowers and we inferred that they must all have different amounts of seeds based on their size. We learned that sunflowers are actually large inflorescences, which means the flower head is actually made of many tiny flowers called florets. The florets look like the center of a normal flower while the outer florets look like yellow petals and together they make up a "false flower". This natural design helps insects and birds to easily see the sunflower and after pollination every little flower or floret produces a seed. That means sunflowers have the name number of florets as they do seeds! When sunflowers reach the decomposition stage, the florets fall off and we can see the seeds nestled in a spiral pattern in the sunflower. 

We all guessed that this amazing sunflower head (which had a 12 ft. tall stalk and a center that was 18 inches in diameter!) must have grown A LOT of seeds!
After taking a look at some different-sized sunflowers, we made a few estimations about how many seeds they could have. Some thought as little as 100, while others thought they could have as many as 100,000! 

You can really see the spiral pattern on this sunflower! 

This sunflower only has a few of its florets left! Below them are the seeds

We then split up into five groups to count some sunflower seeds. Each group had a bowl of seeds to count, and we worked together to count the seeds in groups of tens, using tally marks to keep track of our counting. 

After counting up and adding our seeds together, we found out that everyone had hundreds of seeds in their bowl, and Ms. Riley shared with us that sunflowers can have between 500 to 2,000 seeds! Some seeds are used for eating (by humans, animals, and insects!) , with other seeds are used to make cooking oils. We took a closer look at the seeds that came from our giant sunflower, and we were able to see what the seed looked like inside:

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! to all of the families who brought in so many wonderful sunflowers for us to explore, and thank you to our wonderful custodians who helped us clean up after our day of fun :) 

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