Parts of a flower: A homeschool science activity
Tearing a beautiful flower apart to identify its different parts is a time-honored science activity. In my time, flowers like gumamela, santan and jasmine bloomed freely in every flower bed in the neighborhood. Now all grown up and seeing vast expanses of concrete and glass every place I turn, I weep for all the lovely hibiscus blooms that were plucked in their glorious prime, so that thousands of elementary school children could identify their parts: from the stigma right down to the root. Oh, how many science projects and home-made bubble solutions those flowers helped produce! Now, one would be hard-pressed to find a gumamela that’s free for the plucking. My own Aunt keeps a close eye on her gumamela blossoms, carrying the flower pot back inside the house when nighttime comes.
Hibiscus flowers are a perennial favorite because they resemble the generic angiosperm flower that is commonly diagrammed in elementary science textbooks. But since they’ve become hard to find in these parts, I had to settle for the alstroemeria (Peruvian lilly or lilly of the Incas). Alstroemeria has nearly the same parts as the hibiscus and is much easier to procure. A dozen of them sell for PHP 150 (USD 3) outside the local parish church, which is highway robbery; at Dangwa, Manila’s famous outdoor flower market, they cost only about a third of that).
As labeling activities go, identifying parts of the flower is fairly easy. Using a diagram from his science textbook as a guide, Motito correctly named all the flower parts. Afterwards I asked him to explain the function of each part and how all the parts work together to enable the flower to survive and reproduce. We had to help each other with that one.
There’s nothing like homeschooling to remind a parent of how time has robbed him or her of the knowledge that used to come second nature. “What are the parts of the pistil, again?” I thought, while scratching my head. I tried my best to recall the functions of the stamen and the stigma without having to consult the textbook or to Google, but my mind came up blank. My son, sensing that the struggle was real, let me off the hook. “It’s alright, Mommy. I know it’s been a while.” Was he trying to be snarky or sympathetic? Before I could figure that one out, he added “Now you’ll learn it all over again with me.” I live for days like this.