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Math: Queen Anne's Lace Seed-Saving Multiplication

Supplies:

Small paper sacks | Scissors or clippers

One Queen Anne's Lace seedhead per student

(gather in late fall or early spring, when brown)

White napkin or paper towel section per student | scratch paper and pencil

Seed-starting medium and plugs, or a spot outside to plant seeds

In late fall or early spring, if you know a roadside lane or meadow where there are lots of Queen Anne's Lace wildflowers growing, give each student a paper sack, and go out and collect one of these distinctive seedheads for each student. They will be brown, but will bear this basic shape:

Queen Anne's Lace . . . wild carrot with gorgeous white flowers.

When you get back, working inside - out of the wind! - each child can inspect his or her seedhead and estimate on the scratch paper how many seeds it probably contains.

"It looks like a Dr. Seuss tree!"

Now each student can crush the seedhead carefully, over the white napkin or paper towel, and discover the tiny seeds. Carefully remove the chaff, and line up the seeds in rows of five over to the side.

Now multiply. If you have four rows of five seeds, with three left over, how many seeds do you have?

Let's say the student's seedhead contained 23 seeds. Now let's show the multiplication power of nature!

Let's say that each of those 23 seeds grew next summer, and each of them produced flowerheads that also produced 23 seeds. So by this time next year, you should have 23 times 23 seeds, which equals . . . ??? (Do the multiplication problem on the scratch paper.)

And the following year, let's say all THOSE seeds grew up into flowers, each of which produced 23 seeds. NOW how many seeds do you have? (Recompute)

Each student's result will be different, since each student's flowerhead probably will produce a different number of seeds.

Go around the room, and have every student give his or her ending figure.

All that . . . from one little speck the size of the period at the end of this sentence. WOW!

If you have a place where the whole club can plant their seeds together, and do this activity again next year, great. Otherwise, plant 2 or 3 seeds for each student in a small pot (about 1/8" deep, mist the top and keep misted on a sunny windowsill) to send home, and give away or share the rest.

By Susan Darst Williams • www.KidsGardenClub.org • 'Rithmetic 02 © 2011

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