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COMPARING POLLENS

While we have the school's microscope in our classroom, let's collect some different kinds of flowers, putting each different kind into a separate, small plastic bag, label each bag with the name of the flower, and bring them to school. We will use a cotton swab to get pollen from them to put onto the slides.

On the lists we make, we need to note the name of the plant from which the flower came, whether the flower is colorful, and whether the flower is fragrant. ("Fragrant" means that it smells nice.) Before we look under the microscope, we should see if we can tell any differences in the appearance of pollen with our naked eyes.

After fixing our slides, we can check the pollens that we collected. Do you think there are differences between pollens of colorful or fragrant flowers and grass or weed flowers that are neither colorful nor fragrant? Do you think there are differences between pollens that are carried by insects and birds and those which depend upon wind to carry them?

Usually, flowers that are colorful and/or fragrant depend on insects and birds to pollinate them, and the less colorful flowers that are not fragrant depend on the wind. Do you think, then, that colorful, fragrant flowers have heavier pollen that isn't usually carried in the wind? Do you think that insects and birds are not attracted to the plain flowers because they aren't bright or fragrant, and that is why the wind has to pollinate them? Could it be that big flowers have heavier pollen than small flowers? I don't know the answers, but if we read about pollens, we can find out some of these mysteries.

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