Science students create paper plants

Colleen O'Rourke, Teacher

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As part of the new Department Competency-based Grading initiative, the Riordan Science department is taking a lot of inspiration from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are a new set of standards gradually being adopted by schools worldwide.

One of the guiding themes in the NGSS is exploring and solving problems through engineering solutions and practicing design-based thinking. Thus, for Colleen O’Rourke’s photosynthesis unit, she came up with the idea of having the students engineer a “plant” that had to maximize the amount of light it absorbed using a limited set of materials.

The paper towel tubes were used as the “trunks” of the plants and “leaves” were made from pipe cleaners and cardstock paper. They worked on the project over a couple of days and the students seemed to enjoy it.

According to O’Rourke, “Most importantly, it gave them a very unique understanding of the adaptive challenges plants face when competing with each other for sources of light.”