This lesson introduces learners to mushroom spores and teaches them how to use spore printing as a way of identifying mushrooms (or just creating art with multi-colored mushroom spores!). The lesson introduces learners to the various shapes and colors of spores before guiding them through an activity where they take their own spore prints.
This lesson can be combined with the Mushroom Identification lesson if the mushroom in question requires spore color or ornamentation to be identified.
Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
4LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1 (also SL.4.1, SL.5.1)
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
MS-LS1-4 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.
- This lesson is best presented after learners have had a chance to collect mushrooms from the wild. If that is not possible, mushrooms from a farmer's market could work. The last resort would be store-bought mushrooms. Make sure to have a diversity of mushrooms so that learners will experience different colored spores. If using store-bought mushrooms, try to obtain portobellos, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and chanterelles - when and where possible.
- Note: Portobellos, crimini mushrooms, and white button mushrooms are all the same type of mushroom - Agaricus bisporus.
- Anticipatory Set: Show learners this video of cannon fungi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4n0b5rMqE0
- Explain to learners that this video depicts a pilobolus fungus shooting its spores off at an acceleration of 180,000 Gs, or 180,000 times the force of gravity! That is the fastest acceleration event ever recorded in nature. These spores accelerate to reach a speed of approximately 55 miles per hour, comparable to the speed of a cheetah!
- Explain to learners that this lesson is all about spores!
- Explain: Mushrooms use spores to make more of themselves, or reproduce. Spores can come in many different shapes and colors. Spores can be round and smooth, but they often feature different types of ornamentation. For instance, some spores may have what look like spikes all over them. Others may have grooves or indentations on them. In general the shape of a spore can affect its ability to find a good home. For instance, round, smooth spores are more likely to to fall to the ground, whereas spores that are spiked are more likely to stick to a bug or animal to be carried further away.
- Show learners the chart that displays examples of different shapes of spores (see below).
- Ask learners to take 1 minutes to think about how the different shapes of the spores might affect how they move through the environment. Which spores are likely to stick to bugs or animals? Which spores are likely to float easily in the wind?
- Have learners share their answers.
- Spore prints are used by scientists to study fungi and properly identify mushrooms. Some mushrooms can only be identified properly once you know the color of their spores. Today we will be learning how to make our very own spore prints.
- Give each learner a piece of cardboard, one sheet of white construction paper and one sheet of black construction paper.
- Inform the learners that they will have approximately 5 to 10 minutes to choose two mushroom caps of at least three different mushrooms (one mushroom cap for each piece of paper), place the white and black sheets of paper side by side on the piece of cardboard, arrange the mushroom caps as they like on each of the pieces of paper, and then cover the mushroom caps with the cups or bowls.
- Collect each learner's spore prints by carefully lifting the cardboard and moving to a safe location where they will not be disturbed.
- It will usually take 24 to 48 hours for the spore prints to form.
- Once the spore prints have formed, reveal the spore prints to the learners.
- Option: For very young learners, you may want to carefully laminate the spore prints to keep them in tact so that the learners can see the spore prints without being able to touch them and possibly eat or inhale them!
Unexpected high species diversity among European stalked puffballs - A contribution to the phylogeny and taxonomy of the genus Tulostoma (Agaricales) - Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Spore-ornamentation-under-SEM-of-European-species-a-T-beccarianum-Finy-2-GB-b-T_fig4_316446448 [accessed 7 Jul, 2020]
Figure 2. Spore ornamentation under SEM of European species: a T. beccarianum (Finy 2, GB) b T. brumale (M. Jeppson 8372, GB) c T. aff. cretaceum (M. Jeppson 3821, GB) d T. cyclophorum (AH 16885) e T. fulvellum (AH 13415) f T. giovanellae (AH 11641) g T. kotlabae (M. Jeppson 5597, GB) h T. lloydii (AH 11606) i T. melanocyclum (S. Hanson 2008-247, GB) j T. niveum (M. Jeppson 7699, GB) k T. obesum (AH 20901) l T. pulchellum (M. Jeppson 7833, GB). Scale bars: 1 µm.
References and Resources
Our lesson plans utilize the backward design model presented by Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe