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Comparing Land and Water Plants

A Carolina Essentials™ Activity

Overview

This exploratory activity examines the phenomena of plant structure. No matter in what habitat a plant a plant exists, it will have distinguishing structures with predictable functions. In this activity, students are asked to compare aa aquatic plant, Common Duckweed, to a terrestrial plant of their choosing. Students are guided to examine leaves, stems, and roots and then make a summary statement about how adaptations can be beneficial to plant survival in different habitats.

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Teacher Notes
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Student Worksheet
Grade & Discipline
2

Life Science. Recommended for Grade 2.

Time Requirements
Prep15 min
Activity45-60 min

Teacher Prep time: 15 min
Student Activity: 30 min outside for collecting plant samples
30 to 45 min activity time

Safety Requirements
No PPE Required

Overview

This exploratory activity examines the phenomena of plant structure. No matter in what habitat a plant a plant exists, it will have distinguishing structures with predictable functions. In this activity, students are asked to compare aa aquatic plant, Common Duckweed, to a terrestrial plant of their choosing. Students are guided to examine leaves, stems, and roots and then make a summary statement about how adaptations can be beneficial to plant survival in different habitats.

Save & Print
Teacher Notes
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Student Worksheet

Essential Question

How are land and aquatic plants different? How are they alike?

Activity Objectives

  1. Describe how plants change to live in different habitats.

Next Generation Science Standards* (NGSS)

2-LS4-1 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Science and Engineering Practices

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

  • Make observations (firsthand or from media) to collect data which can be used to make comparisons.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS4.D Biodiversity and Humans

  • There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water.

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns

  • Scientists look for patterns and order when making observations about the world.

Safety & Disposal

When taking students outside to collect plants, be mindful of bug bites and plant allergies. Make certain you and the students can recognize and identify poisonous plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

To dispose of Duckweed, place it in a re-sealable bag, freeze it for several days and then dispose of the bag in the classroom trash. Do NOT dump duckweed into a body or water.

Procedures

Student Procedures

Teacher Preparation and Tips

Student:

Teacher:

  1. Cover the desk with newsprint.

Have students remove soil from the terrestrial plant roots before beginning.

  1. Put both plants on the paper, 4-6 inches apart.

Encourage students to write down observations on the newsprint.

  1. Trace around both plants.

Emphasize the difference in overall shape between the plants.

  1. Look at both plants with the magnifying glass.

Emphasize form and function.

  1. Fill in the data table.

Data and Observations

Look at the plants and fill in the data table.

Land Plant Aquatic Plant
Shape of leaf Will vary Oval and thick or spongy
Number of leaves Will vary Probably 2 to 4
Color of leaves Green Green
Where roots are attached At the bottom of the stem At the bottom of each leaf
Number or roots Will vary One per leaf
Color of roots White to cream White to cream
Shape of stem Will vary No stem visible
How leaves are attached to the stem Attached by another short stem, the petiole NA
Color of stem May vary, usually green NA
Shape of plant Taller than broad Broader than tall
Other observations Will vary—students should note leaf veins Will vary

Analysis & Discussion

  1. How are land plants and aquatic plants similar?

    Answers will vary, but key points should include that they are both green and have leaves and roots. Both types of plants do produce flowers.

  2. How are land plants and aquatic plants different?

    Land plants have stems and a branched root system. Land plants are taller than they are wide. Aquatic plants have roots that hang into water. Each leaf has its own root. The leaves are thicker and somewhat spongey. There is no visible stem on the duckweed.

  3. What makes land plants better able to live on land?

    Branched roots hold the land plant in place and reach out for water. Stems allow for more leaves so there more photosynthesis and food for the plant. Broader and bigger leaves allow for more photosynthesis.

  4. What makes water plants better able to live in water?

    Spongey leaves allow the aquatic plant to float on the surface of the water. Leaves are broad and flat so the plant can float. Aquatic plants don’t have to stay in place. Roots hang directly into water so they don’t have to branch.

*Next Generation Science Standards® is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of, and do not endorse, these products.