All Resources

Pollination Exploration

In this activity, students take on the role of a pollinator to collect “pollen” in a demonstration that outlines the steps and outcomes of pollination.

Flowers must be pollinated and then fertilized in order to produce seeds for the next generation. There are important flower parts that are essential for pollination to occur. The male part, the stamen, produces the pollen, and the female part, the stigma, is what the pollen sticks onto.

Pollination occurs when pollen from the male flower gets deposited on the stigma of the female flower. After the pollen lands on the stigma, the sperm it contains has to travel all the way down to the ovule, where the eggs are found. When the sperm and eggs join, fertilization occurs. Now these eggs will turn into seeds and fruit will form around them.

Objectives

  • Describe, in general terms, how pollination works.

Materials

  • Per Student or Group:
    2 flowers, 1 with female parts, 1 with male (pumpkin or rose)
    1 fruit of same plant
    1 cotton swab (Q-tip)
    1 sharp knife

Key Questions

  • How are plants pollinated?
  • Did you successfully pollinate each time you went to the stigma?
  • What factors determined if pollination was successful or not? What would these factors be in nature?
  • If pollination is important for making many types of seeds and fruits, what would happen if we lost pollinators?

What To Do

  1. Show the students the part of the flower that is the female part and the part that contains the male parts.
  2. Use the cotton swab to act like a pollinator, travelling from the male flower, picking up pollen, then travelling to the female flower, where the pollen lands.
  3. Show the pollen landing on the stigma, and then show that the pollen still has to travel to the bottom of the flower.
  4. Slice open the female flower lengthwise to show the eggs located towards the bottom.
  5. Discuss how the eggs will develop into the seeds found in the fruit.

Extensions

  • Dissect and compare the flower anatomy of a variety of flowers.