Reach For the Sun Teacher Guide - What Are the Structures of Flowering Plants?

What Are the Structures of Flowering Plants?

Time Required



Students will investigate flower structures.
Students will explore the primary goals and challenges of Reach for the Sun.




Fresh flowerHand lensTweezersClear tapeComputer and Internet access


Gather materials for the Flower Dissection activity and make copies of the Flower Dissection Data Chart from the Appendix. Be sure to choose a flower type that has relatively large male and female reproductive structures. Daylilies work well.
Set up an interactive whiteboard or make copies of the Flower Structure Diagram from the Appendix.
Make sure students have access to computers so they can view the Reach for the Sun video on the Filament Games website.

Part 1: Flower Dissection

  • Instruct students to read the introduction in the Student Guide. Divide students into small groups. Project the flower diagram from the Appendix on an interactive whiteboard, or make copies for each student group. Keep in mind that you may also do Part 1 after Game Play.

    Review the diagram briefly, describing the function of each flower structure.

    • The sepals enclose and protect the flower as it develops. The petals are just above the sepals and attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
    • The stamen is the male reproductive structure of the flower and includes the anther and the filament.
    • The anther produces pollen grains and the filament supports the anther.
    • The pistil is the female reproductive structure of the flower and has three main external parts: the stigma, the style, and the ovary.
    • The stigma collects pollen, the style supports the stigma and transports pollen grains, and the ovary contains the ovules, or eggs, that get fertilized during reproduction.
  • Instruct students to complete steps 1 through 6 in the Student Guide as you circulate to address questions as needed. Once students have completed the dissection, have them answer the questions in step 7. Encourage students to think about and respond to the questions as best as they can. There will be a class review of the answers.

Alternative Activity

If obtaining flowers is difficult, you may do this activity as a Web Quest and assign Research Teams. Divide students into small teams and have them look up the different functions of each part of the flower. They should choose a flower, draw it, label the parts, and create a list explaining the function of each part of the flower. When the groups are finished, bring them together as a class to discuss their findings.

  • What is an advantage of a plant having both male and female reproductive structures?
    Pollination can happen within a single plant, so reproduction is more likely.
  • What is an advantage of a plant having both male and female reproductive structures?
    Pollination can happen within a single plant, so reproduction is more likely.
  • Why is it important that the anthers are elevated above the other flower structures?
    They are elevated so pollinators can easily come into contact with the pollen grains and transfer them to the female reproductive structures, or to other plants, for reproduction.
  • Besides the flower, what are the other structures of a flowering plant? What is the function of each structure?
    The stem holds up the plant, the leaves produce food for the plant by undergoing photosynthesis, and the roots take in water and nutrients.

Part 2: Video Overview of Reach for the Sun

Have students view the Reach for the Sun video with a partner.

  • Instruct students to individually complete the Think-Pair-Share activity in the Student Guide.
  • Then, have them share their answers with their partner.
  • Finally, have students discuss their responses as a class. You may either project this activity on a whiteboard or print and distribute a copy to each student. Encourage all reasonable responses and tell students they will learn more as they play the game.

Sample Responses to Think-Pair-Share Activity:

  • What will be your role in the game?
    I will be responsible for growing plants that produce fruits and seeds.
  • What is the goal of the game?
    The goal of the game is to use resources to grow plants that produce as many fruits and seeds as possible during the growing season.
  • What challenges do you think you might encounter during the game?
    I might find it hard to balance the resources available and the plants might die before producing seeds.
  • How can you use what you know about plant growth and reproduction to successfully play the game?
    (I can use the right resources to help my plants grow. For example, I can make my plants undergo photosynthesis when there is a shortage of starch. I can extend more roots when my plants need more water.
  • How are water, nutrients, and starches used in the game?
    These are the resources that plants need in order to grow. In the game, you have to balance these resources to help the plants grow.
  • Why is it important for your flowers to grow seeds and fruits?
    Fruits hold and protect seeds, and seeds grow into new plants.


Let students know that this first game play session is exploratory. They should focus on the sunflower, trying to make as many fruits and seeds as possible in Classic mode. Encourage students to click on different buttons to see what happens. Remind them that they should enjoy the experience and have fun!

  • Once students have logged onto the Filament Games site, have them click on the Play Now button next to Reach for the Sun.
  • Students should click on the Almanac button on the home page of the game. They will have other opportunities to play, so they should take their time reviewing the instructions and game play terminology. You may want to project the Almanac on a whiteboard and walk through each page with students.
  • When students are finished reading the instructions, they should click on the New Game button and purchase the sunflower.
  • When prompted, students should select Yes to play the Tutorial version of the sunflower. After completing a growing season using the tutorial, students can continue with the sunflower in Classic mode.

Pause and Think

As they play, ask students to pause the game for the following brief discussion questions. Students can pause the game by clicking the Options button. They can return to the game by clicking the Resume button.

  • Once students have completed one growing season using the sunflower tutorial, and before they start playing the game, ask:

    "What is your purpose in the game? What will you do if you want your plant to undergo photosynthesis and grow a new plant part but you do not have enough resources?"
    Answers will vary, but students should understand that their role is to try to grow fruits and seeds before the growing season ends. They may have to wait to undergo photosynthesis or to grow new plant parts until they can gather the needed resources.
  • After students have had about 10 minutes to play, ask:

    "In addition to balancing resources, what challenges did you encounter when trying to grow your plant?"
    Answers will vary. Most students will find that they had to destroy plant-eating bugs and keep their plant warm during a cold snap.
  • After students have had about 15 minutes to play, ask:

    "Were you able to grow seeds before the growing season ended? Why or why not?"
    Answers will vary.
  • After students have had about 20 minutes to play, instruct them to finish for the day and ask them to share their overall results:

    "Were you able to grow seeds? If not, why?"
    Answers will vary. Let students know they will share any notes or questions they recorded during the game at the start of the next lesson.

Extension Activity: Plan a Garden

In this activity, students will work collaboratively to make plans for a community garden. Ideally, students will implement their plans for an actual garden on school grounds. However, the activity can also be used to plan a paper-and-pencil garden if a community garden is not available. Because this is an Extension Activity, it is only teacher facing and can be found in the Appendix (Plan a Garden).

Exit Slip

Have students complete the Exit Slip 3-2-1 Summary activity in the Student Guide and submit the activity before leaving the classroom. In addition to answering the questions in the Summary, encourage students to write down any further observations or questions they have about the game. Review the student responses before the next lesson.