I sat outside this morning drinking coffee and watching a bumblebee flop its way through a camellia, hunting for nectar. With each foray, her hairy body was saturated with pollen to be distributed to the next flower. All of the plant's energy had gone into a gamble that an insect would visit and take some of the pollen and donate some to another lucky flower.
The Indiana state biology standards do not have a place for pollination, or even basic plant and animal anatomy, unless you count identifying the differences between their cells, and even that has significant room for improvement. Kids do not care about the differences in the cells unless they can see how it makes a difference in their world.
Without bees, there would be no new flowers each season. Without the flowers, bees would not have a source of nutrition. Cells, when added up, make a difference.
Every day spent with students is an opportunity to question, observe, debate, explain, and create. Unfortunately, we are under the impression that our hands are tied. I chose to believe in standards, rather than observation and questioning, and I regret the opportunities I missed with my students.
Does the bee realize the opportunity it is providing each flower with each stop? I'm not sure, but it doesn't matter. Be aware of the moment and let learning opportunities happen. Do what is right for your kids and the rest will sort itself out.