Description of activity
Students design and construct a bee using materials that reflect the function of its body parts.
This activity could take up to 2 hours for:
- observation, research and planning
- creation of the bee.
Students investigate the structure and function of living things and the interdependence of organisms.
Knowledge and understanding
- Different-sized polystyrene balls, pompoms (or similar), pipe cleaners, toothpicks
- Glue, scissors, paint, markers, crayons
- Samples of different materials and fabrics, eg cardboard, cellophane, greaseproof paper, velvet, felt, etc
Work, health and safety
Check relevant Work, health and safety guidelines.
Particular attention will need to be given if students are asked to observe bees visiting flowers in real life.
ALLERGY ALERT: Bees may sting. Some individuals may have an allergic reaction, if stung.
Evidence of work for assessment purposes
A photo of the bee constructed by the student showing:
- Labelled body parts
- Explanation of why particular materials were used for those body parts
STEM teaching and learning activities
- Using a variety of sources students observe bees gathering nectar and pollen from flowers.
- Students sketch the structure of a bee and seek constructive criticism. Students comment on:
- the relative size of body parts
- accuracy of placement of body parts.
- Students discuss the structural features of bees so that they can label their diagrams.
- Students use their diagrams as a design plan to create a model bee.
- Students discuss the different textures of the bee’s body parts.
- Students choose materials to construct their model bee.
- Students explain how the materials they have chosen reflect the function of that body part.
Abdomen – the lower part of the body
Antenna – a structure on the head, often having a sensory role (plural antennae)
Function – the activity of a body part; what it does
Head – the upper part of the body, often containing the brain and sensory organs
Structure – the arrangement of body parts
Thorax – the middle part of the body between the head and the abdomen
Key inquiry questions
How can you make your sketch of a bee look more realistic?
Ask students to focus on relative sizes, lengths and position of body parts. Look at textures, colours and patterns when observing bees.
How can the materials used to make your bee tell us about what the bee does?
Encourage students to relate structure to function, eg hairs on legs help bees collect pollen.
- YouTube video: BEES: Animals for children
- Amazing Bees: a variety of videos and information
- Isn’t it funny how bees make honey: short video
- YouTube video: Austin’s Butterfly: a short video explaining the characteristics of constructive criticism
Adjustments for the diversity of learners
'Bee Bot' app – available from iTunes. This free app makes use of Bee-Bot's keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90-degree turns.
‘Garden detective: Australian garden’ this student interactive helps students identify various creatures found in gardens. It enables grouping, study of body parts and identification.
In this STEM activity, your students explored different materials, their properties and their suitability for the structures for which they are used. Students will gain an understanding of the interdependence of living things by investigating the relationship between bees and plants. This knowledge and understanding forms the basis for further studies in Biology Stage 6 and sustainability.
Students will have participated in the practical experiences of comparing sizes, volumes and weights. These are experiences that may assist in later learning relating to mathematical, physical or technological concepts.