We are pleased to be hosting STEM Friday this week, a celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books for children. The theme for today is wildflowers, so be sure to click through the link and check it out. (This post contains affiliate links to Amazon).
We are fast approaching the the centennial of Lady Bird Johnson’s birth, December 22, 2012, and it seemed like a perfect time to pull out Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America
by Kathi Appelt and illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein. This is a beautiful picture book biography that overflows with the beautiful wildflowers that Lady Bird Johnson enjoyed so much. (For a full review of the book, see our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil.)
You may wonder how a picture book about a former first lady who loved wildflowers could be used as a jumping off point for STEM. Here are just a few ideas:
- Plant life cycles (see example below)
- Plant/ wildflower identification
– use the website and the guide in the backmatter of the book to identify all the lovely wildflowers in the illustrations
- Seed dispersal
- Ecology issues, such as how introduced and invasive plants change an area
- Food webs
- Weather and climate, and how that effects plants
- Use a computer program to design a wildflower garden
- Construct two weather stations and compare the weather in a wildflower garden versus a parking lot
Wildflower seeds come in many different sizes and shapes. Investigate how wildflower seeds are planted, harvested, processed or threshed, and packaged for sale. Can you think of a machine to do this in a better way?
- Look for patterns and shapes in a wildflower garden (see free .pdf curricula to download at the Wildflower Center)
- Search for Fibonacci’s numbers in flowers
- Calculate the perimeter and area of a garden
Investigating wildflowers can be a wonderful way to promote all aspects of STEM.
Lupine life cycle
Let’s take a look at the life cycle of one of Lady Bird Johnson’s favorite flowers, the bluebonnet or lupine. Her favorite was Lupinus texensis, the Texas bluebonnet. We are showing the arroyo lupine, Lupinus succulentus, which is a similar plant.
sprout into seedlings. The first two smooth oval “leaves” are actually the cotyledons.
Soon the regular leaves emerge and the plants begin to grow.
In a few short months the lupines begin to flower.
Honey bees and other pollinators pollinate the flowers. When the flower has been pollinated, the white part turns red.
Now the petals fall off and the seed pods begin to form. You can see the dark green seeds forming inside.
When they are mature, the pods turn brown. Do you see the ones towards the bottom of the photograph that are twisted? The pods burst open when they are mature and send the seeds shooting through the air. Hopefully, the seeds will land in a good location and grow into new lupines the following year.
Plant some wildflowers so you can follow your own plant life cycles. In the Sonoran Desert the time to plant wildflowers flowers for a spring bloom is right now (November).
Be sure to check either Kathi Appelt‘s (click on the icon next to the “brand new” image) or Joy Fisher Hein‘s websites for a beautiful and fun activity kit (in .pdf) to download that accompanies the book. The kit includes a word search, card matching game and many ideas for hands-on learning.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Free .pdf curricula to download at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Four curricula for grades pre-k through 6)
Hands-on activities at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers is a beautiful book about an inspiring lady. Hopefully, it will encourage some young scientists and engineers, as well.
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (February 15, 2005)
Book was provided for review purposes.
Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.