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Plants We Eat: Learning Form and Function from Fruits and Vegetables

By Katie Pearson

Cal Poly State University

This high school or undergraduate lab consists of four activities that guide students through learning about plant parts from the fruits and vegetables with which they are already familiar. In-person and remote options are provided.

Listed in Teaching Materials

Version 1.0 - published on 10 Aug 2020 doi:10.25334/QCCF-Q880 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms



The learning objectives of this lab are:

  • Identify which parts of the plant are represented by common fruits and vegetables
  • Describe the functions of different parts of the plant (e.g., stem, root, tuber, fruit, leaf, flower)
  • Describe how the function of one part of the plant affects the function of another part of the plant
  • Compare and contrast “grocery store” varieties of common fruits and vegetables and their “wild” relatives and explain why the two differ
  • Describe how plant fruits differ in structure (i.e., what are some different types of fruits?) and how these differences in structure relate to the modes of fruit dispersal

The lab consists of four activities:

  1. Identifying fruits and vegetables: students identify parts of plants and the function of these parts that common fruits and vegetables represent
  2. Connecting fruits and vegetables: students conceptualize how fruits and vegetables relate to the whole plant and to other plant parts
  3. Domestication of fruits and vegetables: students learn about artificial selection and how modern fruits and vegetables are often dissimilar from ancestral forms
  4. Types of fruits: students investigate the different types of fruits and how they relate to how fruit dispersal strategies

This lab was developed as part of a Plant and Society lab course developed at Florida State University under the supervision of Austin Mast and with input from Brendan Scherer.


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