Improving Our Vanilla Bean Pollinators

Jeri Faber, educator
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan
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.



This lesson is part of a series of lessons created by Jeri Faber on using the engineering design process to solve a problem.  In the Ice Scream, You Scream We All Scream for Vanilla Ice Cream, the students were challenged to design a vanilla flower plant pollinator. For day 2, Two Scoops Are Better Than One, students worked with a partner to determine which design to build for their vanilla plant pollinator.  For day 3, Building and Testing Our Vanilla Pollinators, the students constructed and tested the effectiveness of their pollinators based on the design plans.  In this lesson, students improve their plant pollinator models and retest the pollinator's effectiveness.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 2
  • Elementary School
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 will need the pollinator model from the previous lesson as well as their test results to make improvements to the model. Anchor charts from class discussions about how animals help pollinate flowers, with particular emphasis on the body parts that help move pollen are helpful.

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
The teacher will need to provide the materials that the students will need to refine their pollinator models. A copy of the Vanilla Pollinator's Engineer's Notebook student sheet is also necessary.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students need to use prior learning about how animals help pollinate plants in order to improve their plant pollinator models. Anchor charts of classroom discussions that emphasize the structure of animal body parts in the pollination process would be helpful (beaks, legs, nose, etc.).

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Any anchor charts of classroom discussions about the shape and stability of structures as related to their function are helpful supports for the students as they improve the pollinator models, especially if they relate to animals aiding plant pollination.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: In this activity, students actively engage in three-dimensional learning. The children are challenged to develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal pollinating plants. The children use their prior knowledge of pollinators and the pollination process to help them plan and develop a pollinator model. The students will realize that the shape of the object also relates to the function of their design bringing them back to the Core Idea that plants and animals depend upon one another.

  • Instructional Supports: The creator supplies all necessary student sheets, questions for teachers to ask, and helpful tips for a successful lesson. All students can be successful with the partner and teacher support.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The teacher circulates as the students improve their models, checking their progress and asking questions like:" What improvements did you make?" and " How you could tell if it is more successful?" A vanilla pollinator rubric is also included to evaluate student understanding of the three dimensions.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: A powerpoint is included in this lesson. It is inspirational for the students because it addresses inventions that happened by mistake. Students will be inspired by great inventions to want to improve their own models. The creator also includes photos and videos of student work and each resource.