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Pollinators and Their Flowers

In this activity, students discover why a pollinator can’t pollinate any flower, and why plants and pollinators have been evolving together. 

Objectives

  • Describe the importance of pollinators in nature.

  • Describe the importance of biodiversity for both pollinators and plants.

  • List a few characteristics of common pollinators (birds, bees, butterflies).

Materials

  • Per Class or Group:
    a selection of straws of different shapes and sizes
    a selection bottles of different shapes and sizes

    Teacher Tip: Metal and glass straws are most durable for this activity.

     

Key Questions

  • How important is it to have different pollinators support different flowers?
  • How important is it to have different flowers support different pollinators?
  • How do the features of plants and pollinators determine a pollinator's food source?

What To Do

Preparation

  1. Put a small amount of water in each bottle. Then tape a small piece of paper covering the opening. Poke a hole in the paper to fit a specific straw. Have a bottle that will match each straw.
  2. Place all straws, and bottles on a table. The straws represent the proboscis or tongue of a pollinator, and the bottles represent the nectar deposits in flowers.

Activity

  1. Experiment to see how various straws will only fit in certain bottles. Observe how the flower shape affects pollinator type, and vise versa.

Extensions

  • Have students design their own straw and bottle combination to represent a flower a pollinator could easily obtain nectar from.

Other Resources

Bumble Bee Watch |Pollinator Resources

Xerces Society | Pollinator Conservation Resources