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Plant Adventures    Mystery 8

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In this Mystery, students will learn how the food we eat is a result of selection. In the activity students will taste different apples and identify the traits human beings have selected for.

Why are some apples red and some green?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (2 of 8)

Discuss: How could you grow your own sweet apples?

Here's one idea we had

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (4 of 8)

Discuss:

In what ways are you different than your siblings?

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Beginning Exploration (5 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (6 of 8)

Discuss: How could you grow an EVEN SWEETER apple, using the seeds from your new apples?

Here's an idea we had

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Beginning Exploration (7 of 8)
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Beginning Exploration (8 of 8)

Discuss: How did we get from small crab apples thousands of years ago to large red and green apples today?

Reveal answer

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Beginning Activity: Apple Taste Test
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Activity Prep

Each student will need:

  • an Apple Taste Test sheet. (Be sure to change the apple names in the first column to the name of the varieties you use.)
  • a pencil
  • a paper towel or paper plate
  • a toothpick
  • a sample of four different apples

You will need 4 different varieties of apple across different colors, textures, and flavors. (We recommend Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Honeycrisp. Other possibilities are Gala, Fuji, or Jazz). For a class of 30, you’ll need two apples of each variety, for a total of 8 apples.

To prepare the apples for tasting, you will also need a paring knife, a cutting board, and four plastic bowls for apple pieces. (We recommend placing the sticker from the apple on the rim of the bowl to tell you which apple is which.)

Before class begins (or during the video), slice each apple and remove the core. Cut each apple into small pieces so that each student can have a taste.

For an optional math extension, see Graphing the Apple Taste Test.

Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the reading and extension activity in the optional extras.

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.
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Extra Activity: How Many Seeds?

Cut an apple in half horizontally, and you'll see five seed compartments arranged in a star. How many seeds are in each compartment?

Your students will find out in this activity from the Willet Garden of Learning. Students predict the number of seed they will find in each apple, then work in groups to count seeds and compare the results.

Apple growers use seed counting to find out how successful the bees in their orchard have been. Empty seed compartments mean that some of the apple flower's eggs were not pollinated. Some farmers think that apples with more seeds are bigger or juicier. Ask your students what they think, after observing their apples and counting the seeds. (You'll find more information about apple seed counting here.

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Math Extension:

Graphing the Apple Taste Test

Use sticky notes to make a bar graph showing students' apple preference. Draw a horizontal axis and a vertical axis on a large piece of paper. On the horizontal axis, make four columns, each the width of a sticky note. At the bottom of each column, write the name of an apple variety.

Give each student a sticky note and have them place it neatly in the column of their favorite apple. The notes will form the bar of the graph.

For more on graphing with sticky notes, visit Schoolhouse Diva.

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Language Arts Extension:

Once Upon an Apple

Apples often play an important role in fairy tales, myths, and folklore. In a class discussion, ask students if they know any stories in which apples are important. Possible examples are Snow White and William Tell. You'll find other examples from around the world at The Fairy Tale Cupboard.

Ask students to write a story that begins: "Once upon a time, I found a magic apple in my lunchbox." Encourage them to describe what the apple tasted like—and what happened when they ate it.

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Web Resource: Apple Varieties

If your students are intrigued by the Apple Taste Test, there are many other apple varieties to sample. You'll find them listed by name (with a description of each) at the Apple Journal.

If you want to find a apple orchard that your class could visit, check Orange Pippin for one near you.

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