How did a tree travel halfway around the world?

Mystery Science, Doug Peltz
Type Category
Instructional Materials
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



In this lesson, students learn about seed dispersal and how some seeds must move away from the parent plant in order to survive. This activity can be found in the second grade category of Plant Adventures and Plant Adaptations. Educators will need to sign up for a free account. This account is only free for a year and requires a subscription thereafter.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 2
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

2-LS2-2 Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students learn how seeds can be dispersed by wind, water and animals. At the end of the lesson, students build their own seed models using prepared templates and mimic seed dispersal. Students also would benefit by being given their own opportunity to design a seed dispersal model.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students use a seed dispersal template, but their own models could be designed and built to enhance learning about the engineering design process.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This lesson addresses only seed dispersal by wind, water and animals. To fully address the Core Idea, students need opportunities to reason how plants also depend on animals for pollination. After each of the video segments, teachers need to make sure to have students stop and talk with their peers about what is happening.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The lesson includes video clips highlighting the shape of the seed and how the shape functions in the seed’s dispersal. It is crucial for students to stop and discuss with one another how the seed's shape and stability allow it to be dispersed so that students fully understand and realize this crosscutting concept.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The lesson can be aligned to address all three dimensions of the Performance Expectation. The learner makes a model of a seed using a template and mimics the seed’s dispersal by considering the seed’s shape as related to its function. Students should be given the opportunity to design, construct, and test their own seed models.

  • Instructional Supports: Students express their ideas and respond orally to peer and teacher feedback to demonstrate their understanding of seed dispersal. The learner mimics seed dispersal using a seed template. The student evaluates which seed design was moved the farthest and explain why that happened. Extension activities for a woolly sock walk and seed sorting add more ways for students to investigate seed dispersal and offer more opportunities to connect their explanation of seeds moving far away from the parent plant.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The resource has an assessment with answers for teachers and students to use. Having students create and investigate the effectiveness of their own method of seed dispersal would better show how well students understand the concepts. Students would need to explain how and why their model effectively disperses seeds.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Multiple opportunities are given throughout the interactive online lesson for students to turn and talk about how and why the koa seed traveled halfway around the world. Additional questions at the end of the video clips ask students to evaluate how each seed and seed flyer's structure (shape) help them become dispersed.