Botany: The Study of Plants


    “We loved your class. You are a positive and encouraging teacher and the slides were clear, attractive and interesting, helping us to understand a lot of complicated material easily.  We love Athena’s classes because apart from the high standard of teaching/subject matter, the teachers are ALWAYS positive and engaging, the emphasis is ALWAYS on actually learning stuff, not just ticking boxes and answering lots of homework questions just for the sake of it.  Sadly, we have been in (are in) too many classes where the teacher’s attitude seems to be: if you’re not bored and suffering, you’re not learning, which is so not true. When my son takes an Athena’s class he feels relaxed, welcome and extremely interested – the mark of a great class and a great teacher. Thank you Athena’s!” ~Parent Karen


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    InstructorProf. Becky Mentzer Riethmeier
    Content LevelsGrades 7-8 • Junior High
    Grades 9-10 • Lower High School
    Course Length16 Weeks
    Live Webinars Held OnMondays, 2:00 - 2:50 PM Pacific – 1/16/23 - 5/20/23

    Often neglected for their mobile animal cousins, plants have a fascinating life of their own, full of drama you would never expect for organisms that usually stay in one place their whole life.

    Our Botany class will introduce students to the world of living things that can make their own food from the sun. Botany students will learn about plant cells and photosynthesis, and the basics of tree and leaf identification. We also study plant classification and what makes a plant vascular or non-vascular (like mosses and liverworts).

    We also learn about plant reproduction and the amazing adaptations that plants have come up with for storing water, staying upright, spreading their seeds, staying healthy and much more. From Venus fly traps to violets, from medicinal plants to marsh plants, from tall oak trees to tiny trefoil, this class covers it all!

    What to expect in the Required section in the classroom each week:

    • Complete a reading from the textbook.
    • Two or three activities suggested in the text.
    • Participate in a weekly forum, either sharing their reflections from the reading, or answering questions about it.
    • Complete an additional important activity. This may be a video, interactive website, or additional reading.

    What to expect in the Highly Suggested & Optional sections in the classroom each week:

    • To excite learners and to add depth to the subject matter, curated resources, including websites & videos, are provided.
    • Suggested activities from the book.
    • Suggestions for experiments you can do at home.
    • Instructions for a lap/scrapbooking book that highlights all the learning from the class are also included.

    What to expect during the weekly webinar:

    • Weekly webinars are 50 minutes long. Webinars are recorded and are available for students with schedule conflicts.
    • Primary instruction and guided discussions are provided during live webinars.
    • Active Participation (via the microphone and chat) in online class discussions.

    Before taking this course, students should be able to: 

    • Read at a solid 5th grade level or above.
    • Write a paragraph independently.

    Students should be willing to:

    • Actively participate (via the microphone) in the class discussion.
    • Encourage class discussion by adding their questions/ideas in the chat window during the webinar.
    • Respond with positive and encouraging comments on their classmates’ posts in the classroom forums.

    Required books & materials:

    • Botany in 8 Lessons by Ellen Johnston McHenry – available in print or as a digital download.
    • Other online readings will be assigned.

    About the curriculum:

    Description of the text from “The student text is written in a lively, engaging style, often with a touch of whimsical humor, yet delves deeply into the science of how plants work. Each chapter ends with some follow-up activities such as word puzzles, quiz questions, and links to videos that illustrate the concepts learned in the text.”