“Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a special kingdom located on the 3rd satellite from a star the natives called “Sun.” King Evolution ruled both land and water with an iron fist from the time that life first appeared, about 3.8 billion years ago. Although she allowed and even encouraged for life to try new things, she only allowed certain organisms to survive. Those allowed to survive didn’t necessarily need to be perfect or even supremely adapted to their environment – they just needed to be sufficiently good to appeal to her. They also needed to be able to survive random challenges that she would set them over time....”


So began the “Story of Plants,” which took The Renaissance International School (TRIS) middle school students on a fantastic journey through the evolution of plants. Told in simple, yet accurate, terms, the story illustrated the key steps that contributed to the development of the plants we see today, and provided the students with a framework for understanding plant biology.

After hearing about how prokaryotic cells developed into eukaryotic cells, the students were eager to know more. What are these cells? How do they differ from each other? And so began an exploration of cells that resulted in a series of three cell models: prokaryotic, plant and animal (eukaryotic). The students enjoyed learning the names of the different parts as they researched, chatted and built their models.

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Students then had the opportunity to explore why it is that cells didn’t just get bigger and bigger, instead forming multicellular organisms. Through an experiment with agar and a special colorant, the students were able to observe diffusion in agar “cells” of different sizes and to see how the transport of nutrients and waste could be very challenging in a large cell. Best of all, it was a lot of fun!

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