Plant Parts: The Root

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SWBAT describe the function of the roots of the plant.

Big Idea

Why do plants need roots? Do all root systems look alike? Today your students will find the answers to these questions as they explore the root!

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Advanced Preparation:  You will need several examples of root systems (dandelion, radish, carrot, sweet potato, and magnifying glasses.

The students will explore a variety of roots and learn about the types of roots and the function of them through a class exploration and discussion.  

Our district expects students to understand that a plant is a system that goes through a natural cycle and the parts help the plant survive and reproduce. By focusing on the parts and needs of a plant, I can teach them how the parts have a role that helps a plant get the things it needs to survive.  The unit will end with the class spending 4 days int eh school garden and applying their learned knowledge to the work being done in the garden.  


Students demonstrate their understanding of Reproduction by…

  • Drawing and labeling the stages of development in the life of a familiar plant.





5 minutes

I start by gathering the students in a circle on the carpet.  I bring over a few examples of roots that we eat (Carrots, Horseradish, Radishes, Rutabagas, Parsnips, and Turnips).  

"Who can tell me what these things are?"

I take a few responses from the students.  Expect to hear the idea that they are vegetables.

"These are all parts of a plant.  Can anyone tell me what part of the pant that these are?"

Again, I take a few responses.  

These are all roots from different plants.  They all happen to be roots that we can eat too.

I have included a video of this introduction.  


20 minutes

The students continue to sit in a circle on the carpet.  I want to establish the function of a root and introduce the importance of these functions.  

"A root has 4 different functions for a plant:  1) absorption of water 2) anchoring of the plant body to the ground, and supporting it, 3) storage of food and nutrients, 4) vegetative reproduction (I don't worry or explain the last one).  I want to focus on the first three functions.  

How do you think a root absorbs water?  Why would it need to do this?

Why is it important for the roots to anchor a plant to the ground?

Why is it important for the root to store food and nutrients?  Where do the food and nutrients come from?"

For each of these questions, I allow for students to offer their ideas and responses but want to make sure that I clarify any misconceptions and to make sure that the students understand the importance of the three functions.



10 minutes

I have the students face the Smart board and introduce them to the terms fibrous and tap roots.  

"There are two different types of roots that you will find.  One type of roots are called tap roots and the other are called fibrous roots.  I want you to watch the following video so you can learn about the difference between the two types."

I am choosing to show this video because it will quickly review the functions of the root and then introduce the two types of roots.  Once the video is done, I will review the terms fibrous and tap and ask for examples.  They will then use their knowledge of the two types in the next section.


10 minutes

The students will now use their knowledge of tap and fibrous roots to classify the roots that were shown to them at the beginning of the lesson.  I will place the roots in the middle of our "conference" table so that all of the students can see them.

"I want you to take out your science notebooks and set them up for today's entry.  I will write the words fibrous and tap on the board. I will also write the names of each root (examples) on the board too.  I want you to set up a t-table and label one side tap and one side fibrous.  Then I want you write the name of each root in the correct category."

"When you are done, I want you to answer one final question.  Would a tree have fibrous roots or a tap root?"




1 minutes

The students use the science rubric to assess their entry for today.  I also look through their entries to grade them and to look at their understanding of fibrous and tap roots.