Think Tank is BUZZING!

Over the past 6 weeks, Think Tank has been a BUZZ with all things bees. From our partnership with DC Beekeepers to our Wisconsin Fast Plants unit, Think Tank learning about the partnership between honeybees and plants is in full bloom! Take a closer look at what our 3rd and 2nd graders have been up to!                   

For the second year in a row, 3rd grade partnered with master beekeeper Toni Burnham and volunteer Barry Hayman of DC Beekeepers to complete an intensive, 10 week honeybee unit. Each class is an in-depth look at a very specific part of honeybee survival. This year, we focused strongly on structural and behavioral adaptations as this is an important 3rd grade NGSS concept. Honeybees truly are our insect partners!   Take a look!

Class #1: Why are pollinators important, and why do we work with only one kind, the honeybee?
Students dissected lilies and diagrammed the reproductive parts of the flower. They explored how these parts worked in conjunction with the honeybee in the process of pollination.


Class #2: Who lives in a beehive?
Students looked at the family and physical structure of honeybees. They used an observation hive of life, working bees as well as dried honeybees to look closely at bee behavioral and structural adaptations.

Class 3: What is a beehive and what do beekeepers do?
On this day, Toni brought in a modern hive. Students took it a part and explored the way it was constructed. They compared it to the hives found in nature and looked at the reasons behind various structures. She also shared the clothes beekeepers wear to protect themselves. Always remember to put those socks over the bottom of your pants!


Class 4: Bees or Wasps or Hornets?
In this class, students explored the ways that these insects are different from one another. They looked at the structural and behavioral adaptations that each needed for survival and reinforced that the honeybee has no desire to sting us! (Did you know that if a honeybee stings it will die?)
Class 5: Are Bees in Trouble? (Hint: YES!)
Students looked at the biggest issues harming our honeybee population. Students also used math to tell the story of the bee population troubles.Take a look what these numbers show…. it’s frightening!

They then learned what was contributing to the colony issues. Construction, monoculture, mass-pesticide use and disease are all killing honeybees faster than beekeepers can keep up with. They took their ideas and made posters to show how they think we can save the bees!

Class 6: What are the products of the hive and why do bees make them?
After learning about why the bees make certain things we love (honey) and use ( beeswax), students tasted raw pollen and made their own beeswax candles. 

What comes next??

When spring arrives, students will wrap up this partnership with 4 week unit putting their learning into action! Lessons include building a hive, making native pollinator nests, seed balls and harvesting their own honey!

For more information or access to this amazing curriculum, please contact Toni Burnham at . She is an amazing resource and has this entire unit ready for any teacher to use!

For 2nd grade,  rockin’ classroom teachers Ms. Hipps and Ms. Fox completed completed the awesome Engineering is Elementary unit “Designing Hand Pollinators” as part of their Quarter 1 cornerstone. Students explored the issue of lack of native pollinators in various places around the world and then designed hand pollinators that worked with a variety of different plants. You can check out some pictures from their study on the class Twitter feed @maury2ndgrade !

To build on that knowledge, student then came to Think Tank where they planted, grew and tended to Wisconsin Fast Plants. As part of this process, they pollinated the plants with real, dried bees and saw the real-life outcome of pollination. While we are now in the waiting phase for our pods to dry and collect our seeds, take a look at the process we went through to get there!

Students followed a specific procedure for planting.

Each week they observed and measured and recorded data about their plants.

Plants must be kept under grow lights 24h a day.

 When the flowers bloomed, it was time to pollinate!

Students used real bees ( dried and glued to sticks) to pollinate their flowers. They identified the flower structures and make observations about the transfer of pollen too!

A week later our pods are fully forming! Petals fell off ( they are not needed to attract pollinators anymore) and students can see the seeds inside. Did you know that every seed was once one grain of pollen?


Students are now just waiting for their pods to dry out so they can collect the seeds. Next year’s 2nd graders will then have seeds to do the same project! So cool!
Even though this blog post is all about these two grade levels, rest assured that exciting Think Tank units are happening in all others! All grade levels begin new units this week! 
Make sure to follow our thinking on Twitter @maurythinktank and I’ll be back with a blog post about our Project Lead the Way units in the coming weeks!

Posted in Specials Posts, Think Tank.