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Why do plants give us fruit?
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Discuss:

What do you think happened to the seeds the pear flowers should have made?

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Discuss:

What part of the flower turned into a pear?

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Discuss:

Why do you think some plants grow fruit around their seeds?

Hint...

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Discuss:

Do you think a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable?

Reveal answer

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.
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Activity: Bee-Free Barbecue

If you've ever been pestered by bees at a picnic, you might think that a barbecue would be better if there were no bees at all.

Not so! Without the bees to pollinate crops, your barbecue would have no mustard, no ketchup, no pickles, no lemonade.

In this activity from the Smithsonian, students explore what foods the barbecue would be missing if there were no bees. A student handout and teacher instructions are provided.

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Resource: Grow Your Own Food

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
Cherries by 4028mdk09
Open field by Broo_am (Andy B)
Single pear by Xth-Floor
Flowers by Imgur
Pears seeds by Dezidor
Strawberriew by Ken Hammond, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Apple flowers by Дар Ветер
Tree full of flowers by ForestWander
Video: Pear fruit swelling by Neil Bromhall
raccoon eating cherry by Shelly Cox
Apples on tree by George Chernilevsky
monkey eating banana by live-less-ordinary.com
Apple by Amada44
Send a message by ladelentes
squirrel eating orange by Mr.TinDC
airplane by The Photographer
bird eating berries by Matt MacGillivray
bird with large bill by William Warby
Cedar Waxing by Craig Gibson
pear tree (with fruit) by Paul Wood
Baby plant by JMK
pears on branch by Amber Ginsburg and Lia Rousset
pears by Imgur
Maple seeds by Dcrjsr
Inside apple by LD Cross
Bartlett pears by Peaceful Valley Company
Watermelon flower by Meighan
green pepper by Kitty W
Watermelon by Fred Hsu
green pepper flower by Jim Conrad
green pepper sprout by Barbara
Vegetables by Man vyi
Cut up watermelon by Harsha K R
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this lesson students learn about why plants grow fruit. In the activity, Science Fruit or Vegetable, students examine common grocery produce and predict if each item is a science fruit or science vegetable. Then they take a closer look at slices of the produce and search for seeds.

Preview activity

COVID-19 Adaptations
Digital worksheets available
Teacher demo recommended

Students at home
Set up the activity and demonstrate over video conference. Students need the Science Fruit or Science Vegetable worksheet (printed or digital) to record their observations.
Students at school
Set up the activity and demonstrate for students. Each student needs the Science Fruit or Science Vegetable worksheet so that they can record their observations as you demonstrate.
Number of students:
Science Fruit or Science Vegetable worksheet 1 per student
Science Fruit or Science Vegetable Answer Key teacher-only resource 1 per class
Cutting Board
1 board per class
Knife
1 knife per class
Celery
1 stalk per 10 students
Cucumber
1 cucumber per class
Cucumber
1 cucumber per 10 students
Paper Plates
1 plate per student
Potato
1 potato per group
Potato
1 potato per class
Radish
1 radish per class
Radish
1 radish per group
Tomato
1 tomato per group
Tomato
1 tomato per class
Toothpicks
1 toothpick per student
Prep Instructions

Slice Fruits and Vegetables Before Class

We suggest slicing foods before class. We used the foods listed above, but you can use other foods in place of these. Just be sure to include a mix of vegetables that have seeds, such as tomatoes and cucumbers (science fruits), and ones that don’t, such as celery, potatoes, and radishes (science vegetables). If you want to challenge your students, use less familiar produce, such as pineapples, eggplants, and kiwis (science fruits), as well as brussels sprouts (science vegetables).

Place one slice of each type of fruit or vegetable onto a paper plate for each student so that each student will have the opportunity to examine all the produce.

Before students examine the sliced fruit and vegetables and look for seeds, you will show them one whole fruit or vegetable so that they can first make a prediction. So be sure to reserve one of each grocery item to show students.

Extensions