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Activity

Flower UV pattern matching game

Summary: 
Students match flower picture cards that have both visible and ultra violet light images, and learn how a bee is guided to the centre of a flower.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Biology: Sensing, Organ Systems (4, 5, 6)
Physics: Light and Sound (1)
Materials: 
  • Flower picture cards: 6 (or so) different flowers taken in both visible and UV light (see reference below)
Procedure: 

Gather and print images of the same flower taken in visible light and UV light.
Try this link for a long list of ideas: http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_flowers_list.html#top/. To help narrow down, find ones who's Unltraviolet Features are "strong bulls eye pattern" or "strong" in the description
e.g.
Arnica angustifolia (Arctic sunflower) http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_ARNI_ANG.html
Bidens http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_BIDENSZ.html
Oenothera biennis http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_OENO_BIE.html#top
Potentilla reptans http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_POTE_REP.html#top
Rudbeckia hirta http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_RUDB_HIR.html#top
Sow thistle (looks like a branching dandelion), Sonchus arvensis http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_SONC_ARV.html#top
Tripleurospermum maritimum http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_TRIP_MAR.html

Students are asked to pair the picture cards. Each pair has the same flower taken in UV and visible light.
Some flowers have completely different patterns when viewed in each light.
Bees are able to see in UV, so can see patterns that we and other animals cannot, as well as the visible colours. The bee is guided to the centre of the flower, hence to the nectar, with these guides.

Other colours seen by animals:
Snakes can see well in infra red, which is heat, to help them catch (warm) prey.
Reptiles, amphibians, birds and insects can all see more colours than humans.

Grades taught: 
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Teacher: 
Ingrid
Wendy Zwaagstra
Teaching site: 
General Gordon Elementary Science Club
After School Program at Elementary schools in New York City
Selkirk Elementary
Van Dusen Botanical Garden