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Benefits of Pollinator Plants

Driving or Multi-dimensional Question:

Think of a relevant problem with multiple solutions that will drive student learning.
You have been asked to design and build a garden or greenspace at your school using pollinator plants found in the Tennessee Valley. Your design should also take into consideration the behaviors and structures of pollinators in order to increase survival and reproductive success.

Once your garden/greenspace is built, you will create visual displays to communicate the benefits of planting pollinator plants to those visiting your garden/greenspace.

Unit Summary:

This PBL unit will ask students to explore proper resource management techniques as students learn the benefits of planting pollinator plants. Students will further explain how behavioral and structural adaptations increase a species’ survival and reproductive success.

This unit will require students to identify common, native pollinator plants found in the Tennessee Valley. Then they will design and build a school garden or greenspace utilizing these plants.

Hook Event:

Draw-Pair-Share Activity
Imagine the school is going to start a garden. What items do you need to include in your garden in order for plants to grow, even when school is not in session and no one is around to care for the garden? Have students draw their garden. Then students will pair with a fellow classmate and share their thoughts.

Culminating Event:

Students will design and build a school garden or greenspace which incorporates pollinator plants native to the Tennessee Valley. The garden will have information posted communicating to visitors the benefits of pollinator plants.


Science Standards:

7.LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes 6) Develop an argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to explain how behavioral and structural adaptations in animals and plants affect the probability of survival and reproductive success.

Math Standards:

7.G.B.5 Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume, and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.

ELA and Other Standards:

7.W.TTP.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

7.SL.PKI.5 Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and to emphasize major points.

Digital Readiness (Computer Science):
AIT.6 Collect, organize, analyze, and interpret data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.

CCP.22 Interpret the flow of execution of algorithms and predict their outcomes.

Daily Activities

For more information on this lesson please see the Lesson Resources below

ActivityDescriptionResources and Materials
Activity One

The Importance of Pollinators

KWL Organizer on the topic “Pollinators”

In the first column, students will write what they know about pollinators. In the second column, students will write what they want to know about pollinators. After students watch the provided videos, they will complete the last column with what they learned about the importance of pollinators.

California Academy of Science: Why Protect Pollinators?

Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency: Habitat Pollinator Plot

Knoxville WVLT News: Rare animals thrive beneath TVA power lines (Cumberland Plateau)


Activity Two

Insect Pollinators

Tracking Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies are one example of a pollinator. Through the Monarch Watch Tagging Program, scientists track and study monarchs as they migrate each fall.

In this activity, students work with a partner to study the data provided on the Monarch Watch 2019 Season Tag Recoveries - Domestic Google sheet. Students are encouraged to pay special attention to the data in the “Notes” column.

Groups should be prepared to share with the class their observations of the data and provide informed decisions on how to best design a school greenspace or garden which could attract Monarch butterflies. Tagging Monarchs

Google Sheet: Monarch Watch 2019 Season Tag Recoveries - Domestic

Activity Three

Native Pollinator Plants & the Pollinators They Attract

Dear Pollinator Letter

Students will practice letter composition and point-of-view writing. Using knowledge of pollinators and their needs, students should select one animal pollinator and write a letter to that pollinator. The letter should provide clear and relevant evidence on the benefits of visiting that pollinator in a particular garden.

Visit benefits should include the following:

Pollinator plants present in the garden which are native to the Tennessee Valley and appealing to the designated pollinator Specific pollinator plant structure(s) which aids in that animal’s probability of survival and reproductive success Components of garden’s design which aid in the survival and reproductive success of the pollinator.

Google Slide Deck: Attracting Butterflies to Your Yard (created by Master Gardener, Jennifer Johnson)

Wild One's Tennessee Valley Chapter: Native Plants for Pollinators

Southeastern Grassland Initiative: TVA Rights-of-Way: Ruderal Habitats or Pre-settlement Savanna Conditions?

City of Gallatin: Save the Monarch

Activity Four

Pollinator Habitats

Virtual Habitat Design

Students will design and program a virtual habitat for a pollinator of their choice using’s Game Lab. Students should include a pollinator and a pollinator plant to which that particular pollinator is attracted to. Habitats may be coded to resemble an interactive postcard OR a video game.

Students may source images of their selected pollinator and pollinator plants from the Internet. These images can then be uploaded into’s Game Lab under the “Animation” tab and used in programming their virtual habitat, interactive postcard, OR video game.

Code may be written in Blockly or JavaScript. Sample Game Lab projects are provided on the website. Students may “Remix” an existing project and customize it with their own images. Game Lab’s CSD Unit 3 - Animations and Games: Lesson 14 Project “Interactive Card” tutorial’s CSD Unit 3 - Animations and Games: Lesson 22 Project “Design a Game” tutorial Gardening Game: Click Make My Own (allows you to remix the project so you can add your own images)

NOTE: This activity can also be completed on other coding platforms such as Scratch or Bitsbox.

Scratch -

Bitsbox -

Activity Five

Pollinator Garden / Greenspace Layout

Design and Build a School Garden or Greenspace

Students will work in groups to design and build a school garden or greenspace, as dictated by their teacher.

Groups will need to be able to explain how their garden/greenspace’s design will increase the probability of pollinator survival and/or reproductive success. This can include items such as which pollinator plants are in their garden and/or nesting opportunities.

Groups will be asked to calculate the quantity of garden supplies needed. This can include the amount of wood needed to build the bed, the volume of water needed per garden, the soil needed for planting.

Once groups have successfully designed and built their pollinator garden, students should create visual displays to explain the benefits of pollinator plants for individuals visiting these school pollinator gardens.

UT Institute of Agriculture: Create Your Own Butterfly Garden!

U.S. Forest Service: Gardening for Pollinators

Tennessee Department of Transportation: Pollinator Habitat Program

Gardener’s Supply Company: Garden Design “Pollinator Gardens”

Pollinator Gardens: Simple Tips for Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Landscape

The Tennessee Magazine: Pollinator gardens: a trend that puts some buzz in your landscape

Activity Six

Optional Extension: Monarch Tagging

Teachers order Monarch Watch Tagging Kits so students can tag and track Monarch butterflies that appear in the school garden/greenspace.

The provided video gives instructions for properly catching and tagging the butterflies.

Note: it may be easier to order Monarch butterflies to release

Monarch Watch Tagging Kits

Monarch Watch: Butterfly School

Activity Seven

Optional Extension: 3D Print a Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbirds are another example of a pollinator. Students can use a 3D printer to design a hummingbird feeder for their school garden/greenspace.

Students can use software such as Tinkercad to design their 3D printer files. OR students can print using completed digital files found on Thingiverse.

Tinkercad: Create 3D Digital Designs

Thingiverse: Digital Designs

Thingiverse: Hummingbird Feeder 3D Printer Files

Community PartnersContribution to Learning ExperienceContact Information

TVA Natural Resource Management Professional

Guest speaker – discuss the benefits of planting pollinator plots


National or State Park Ranger

Field trip or virtual field trip – students travel to a national or state park to see firsthand how pollinators benefit the ecosystem


Local nursery or landscaping company

Guest speaker / Activity facilitator – discuss the advantages of using native, pollinator plants in residential landscaping; assist students as they design their school garden.


Local beekeeper/member of local beekeeper association

Guest speaker – discuss native pollinator plants and how the presence of these plants influences local honey production


Technology Integration: Students will use digital productivity tools,’s Game Lab and the Internet for research and PBL assignments. As an extension activity, students may also use a 3D printer and relate digital resources to print a hummingbird feeder.

Capstone Presentation:

Students will communicate the benefits of pollinator plants to visitors using displays posted around the school garden or greenspace. Students and their families will be encouraged to work in the garden on school STEM nights.

Lesson Resources