The Birds and the Bees, and the Flowers and the Trees

Original lesson plan by Bret Schnieber
Adapted by Rachel Hughes and Kirstin Bittel

Time: 3 class periods
Preparation Time: Preparation of video tapes
Materials: Individual video tapes, each containing a different 10-minute segment of the movie “Sexual Encounters of the Floral Kind”. This video is available through a number of the biological suppliers. Make sure each tape does not have on it the name of the tape and that you DO NOT tell them the title to ensure that students do not cheat by obtaining the version and listening to it.
Multiple places for students to watch their segment
Four different flowers for two groups
2 sets of 4 or 5 fruits
Video segment student sheet

Students will examine the roles in which animals play in the pollination of plants by watching, researching, and then narrating the movie “Sexual Encounters of the Floral Kind.” The general goal of this lesson is to recognize the numerous relationships between plants and animals in the pollination process.

Students will be able to:-
1. recognize that flowers have male and female sexes
2. describe cross pollination and propose reasons for cross pollination through narration of a video
3. describe adaptations for flowers, insects and other pollinators through narration of a video
4. identify the importance of the plant/animal interaction

National Science Education Standards
Content Area C- Biological Evolution
Species evolve over time. Evolution is the consequence of the interactions of (1) the potential for a species to increase its numbers, (2) the genetic variability of offspring due to mutation and recombination of genes, (3) a finite supply of the resources required for life, and (4)the ensuing selection by the environment of those offspring better able to survive and leave offspring.

Teacher Background

Related & Resource Websites




1. Tell your students that they are going to watch a movie unlike any we have watched all year – one that is silent! It will be their group’s responsibility to supply the words explaining what they see in the video. They are going to be the narrators.

2. Each group of students watches their 10-minute segment of the movie. (This might be achieved by rotating groups and using 2-3 televisions. As the sound is turned off, it should not interfere with other students watching their segment. Students must make an outline of what happens in their segment. Provide each student with the form which outlines the task at hand and provides them with some prompts.

3. While students are waiting to see their segment they attend one of three stations:

  • A center with multiple and different forms of flowers. Students draw multiple types of flowers in their notebooks, identifying their parts and proposing detailed reasons for the variation.
  • Return to the fruit/seed experience. Students observe some fruits not seen in the first lesson Designing seeds. Students draw and identify the method of dispersal.
  • Computer station. Have students observe time lapse photography of plants at http://sunflower.bio.indiana.edu/~rhangart/plantmotion/starthere.html Specifically the movies about germination and flower growth are interesting.)

4. Before the end of class let students know that tomorrow they will need to make good use of their time so that they can present on their segment. Tonight they should review their notes from the segment.

Day 2: This day is for researching and preparing their narration piece.
1. Allow time for students to become familiar with the kind of organisms present in their section of the video and the role they are playing. They may need some support in doing this. Individual species’ scientific names are not important concepts in this lesson. Have the segments of video available for students to review. Limit time at the video so that all students have an opportunity to review their video segment. Remind students that what is important to observe are the relationships being exhibited by the various organisms during pollination. Provide a mixture of entomology and plant books so that students can research and present on their segment. Encourage students to use the appropriate language.

Day 3: Each group presents their section of the video, acting as narrators to the entire class and teachers. Their job is to report to the class what is taking place in the video and the importance this has with biodiversity. While this is taking place the rest of the students will be taking notes on what is being reported. This is important because as soon as the video presentation is complete, replay the segment with sound to compare the accuracy of the group’s report.

5. Students should be able to conclude that there are more organisms than bees that aide in the pollination process. They should also realize that cross-pollination is very difficult when they are literally rooted, yet it must occur for genetic variation. This will become clearer during the second half of the quarter. The last things students will see are the male and female sex parts of the plant.

Embedded Assessment

Two groups will be assessed during this activity: those conducting the presentation, and those in the audience.
Presenters turn in an outline that includes observations made during the analysis of the film and what relationships were discovered.
Audience – 3x5 card quizzes can be given either after each presentation or at the end of class. An example question might be, “What have flowers evolved to keep animals coming back to them? What is your evidence?

You and your group members are to be narrators on what is presently a silent movie! Watch your 10-minute segment and try and figure out what is going on. As you watch and immediately afterwards, try to get down as much information as possible. Then talk with your group about what you think was going on. Tomorrow you will have some time to create a narration to go along with your segment. Everyone in your group should talk for approximately 2minutes of the segment. It should sound as professional as possible. You don’t need to know specific species’ names, instead focus on the relationships between the organisms you see.

Suggestions for your outline
1. Break the 10 minutes into 1 minute slots. What happens in that minute?
2. What is going on overall? Who is involved? Are there multiple players? How different are they?
3. What relationships do you see? What kind of relationships are they? Are they exclusive?

As a group come up with a title that you think fits this segment

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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