Although dissecting fruits alone is a valuable exercise, connecting the structures found in fruits to those found in flowers can help students to better understand the reproductive cycles of plants and the diverse adaptations that have made flowering plants so successful. By dissecting many types of fruit, students notice that seeds are the common structures. The fruit dissection can be followed by dissecting a seed to observe the baby plant inside.
If it’s possible to get extra fruits for your class, students can cut the same type of fruit in different directions. For example, an apple can be cut through the equator and through the stem and the bottom. This makes it easier for students to visualize the internal structures.
Providing too much vocabulary in the introduction to this activity typically interferes with students’ ability to make their own observations. Before giving them terms for botanical structures, let students notice and use their own language to describe what they see, and let them reason about the connections between the structures they notice.
Drawing can help focus their observations. Ask students to notice and draw the structures outside and inside the fruits, and the similarities between fruit structures and flower structures. Ask them how they would argue from this evidence that fruits are related to flowers.
It’s often difficult to distinguish between the remnants of stamens and stigmas on the outsides of fruits. Ask your students to reason based on their observations—they might notice that stamens are more numerous than stigmas, for example, or notice the presence of dried anthers, the pollen-containing structures of a stamen.