4th to 6th grade students at Goleta Family School enjoyed a nutritional botany lesson in the garden. Through the study of carrots, celery, apples, onions, broccoli, and green onions students learned about the function of various plant parts. This lesson was designed to move beyond the normative roots, stem, leaves, flower, fruit lesson taught earlier in the year into deeper botanical knowledge. Each plant part was viewed whole, and as a cross-cut so students could view the inner structure. The xylem and phloem were primarily highlighted. We also discussed the relationship between photosynthesis and the storage of plant sugars called glucose.
The class started with a discussion of which part of the plant the edible part comes from. Of course, everyone knew that apples are the fruit, but most students were surprised to learn that that we eat the flower buds of broccoli. After examination of each plant with magnifying glasses, students chose a crop and created a detailed drawing, labeling its major parts, and functions.
After the examination and drawing, students cut the remaining vegetables into bite sized pieces. I led a demonstration in making raw cashew ‘cheese’. Using a food processor and herbs from the garden, we created a delicious cashew dip for all the freshly cut veggies. Finally, we all sat together, said thanks for the abundance, and enjoyed the nutritious snack!