What's Going On?

Rich pickings

Activity overview

Science topics:

Plants

Spark a conversation with harvest-themed video. This activity is great for describing observations and applying ideas in unfamiliar contexts.

Run the activity

1. You’re going to watch a short video. The aim isn't to find right answers, it's to explore ideas and find out what they know.

  • Do they know what might happen based on the image?

2. After you've watched the video, lead a discussion with your class:

  • Do they recognise any of the fruit and vegetables in the video?
  • What do they notice about the plants the food comes from?
  • Have any of your pupils ever picked fruit, like the children in the video? 
  • Do the class know what plants need to survive? 

3. Ask the class to describe what they saw using only one word.

Background science

Take a look at a range of everyday fruit and vegetables being harvested. You’ll see a range of food that grows on trees (apples) or vines (tomatoes and pumpkins), and in or below the ground (lettuce, carrots). The class might think that the apple is the only fruit that’s being harvested in the video, but technically the tomatoes and pumpkins are fruits too. For something to be considered a fruit it needs to contain seeds and develop from the flower of a plant. Vegetables are considered the other edible parts of a plant, such as the roots (carrot) and leaves (lettuce).

The tomatoes in the video are being grown in a greenhouse. Growing fruit and vegetables in a greenhouse gives the grower more control over the amounts of heat and water the plants are exposed to. This is particularly beneficial for the plants like tomatoes as the tomato seeds need to reach a certain temperature before they start to grow. It’s also easier to control the spread of diseases, like tomato blight, which thrives on cold wet leaves, as you can keep the leaves dry and warm indoors. A lot of tomatoes are not grown in soil at all, but in a special solution that contains all the nutrients they need to grow.

Take it further

Do the children recognise all of the foods in the video? Bring some into the classroom for the children to explore. You could investigate how you might create new plants from the seeds of the fruits and even try drying out some tomato seeds and planting them. If you’re growing indoors you would need to sow the seeds between January and March and for outdoors in March or April.  There’s lots of information on sowing and harvesting times from the RHS.

There’s lots of information from the RHS about growing fruit and vegetables if you have some outside space. It’s a brilliant opportunity to get your hands dirty and observe changes over time.

Check out these amazing MRI scan images of some everyday fruit and vegetables from our friends at Wellcome Collection. There’s plenty more to explore with our Types of apple Odd One Out or go back to the beginning with these Shooting sprouts.

Video credits: adaman via Getty RF / Laurence Dutton via Getty RF / Shawn Nelson via Getty RR / Thomas Barwick via Getty RR / adaman via Getty RF

Music: Mildura, by Bruce Maginnis via AudioNetwork