Roots, Leaves, Stems, and Flowers

Picture from on a recipe called Roasted Yam and Kale Salad by an anonymous source.

Picture from on a recipe called Roasted Yam and Kale Salad by an anonymous source.

Students generally love lab days because lab days are a day for students to enjoy learning using hands-on experiments and tests. An example of this is at Farragut High School with teacher Lauren George-Smith (Mrs. George), teacher of bot/zoo and environmental science at Farragut High School, conducting a two-week-long combination of little labs about roots, leaves, stems, and flowers.

Picture of Lauren George-Smith from, the FHS staff directory.

I first went to George-Smith to ask about the lab. She said she conducted the lab during her fourth block class. She showed me a little green Foreman grill with a small propane canister attached to it. She said she used this to cook yams (the edible starchy tuber of a climbing plant that is widely grown in tropical and subtropical countries) as a visual and a segue into the topic of roots. They also examined the cells of their meal under a microscope to see the dichotomy of the cells.

“I was actually lucky enough to get real yams at whole foods,” George-Smith said exuberantly.

George-Smith also said, “This is a fun way for the kids to get involved and be engaged in the lesson.”

George-Smith also made a salad for the class to enjoy and while doing this she went into detail about the leaves and their composition and their purpose.

“For stems, we cooked fennel and potatoes,” George-Smith adds.

While I was talking to her, she has still yet to finish the labs because she still hasn’t done her lab about flowers.

George-Smith said, “For the flowers, I think I’ll probably do something with fruit.”

Picture of Thomas Witthauer from taken by Hannah Shipstad.

I then went to one of George-Smith’s fourth block student;s named Thomas Witthauer to ask about his opinion on the labs.

When asked if he liked the lab more than usual class Witthauer said, “Yes, I thought it was pretty laid back, but still interesting and still had a good focus on the science of the cells. I liked the looking at the dicots and monocots under the microscope.”

“I think I learned a lot about the different makeups of plants,” said Witthauer.

In conclusion, labs are a fun interactive teaching method and studies say, “The research suggests that laboratory experiences will be more likely to achieve these goals if they (1) are designed with clear learning outcomes in mind, (2) are thoughtfully sequenced into the flow of classroom science instruction, (3) integrate learning of science content and process, and (4) incorporate ongoing student reflection and discussion,” according to The National Academies Press in their 2006 book, America’s Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science by a variety of contributors including Susan R. Singer, Margaret L. Hilton, and Heidi A. Schweingruber. These labs are especially engaging if you actually get to eat them in the end.