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The Nonvascular plants at Black Rock Forest

Grade Levels



Living Environment


Moss, Sexual reproduction, Egg, Sperm,Fertilization

Forest Locations

             Students will use  1.- Science center

                                          2.- The Upper Reservoir

                                          3.- The glacier black Rock 

Download Trail Map



               Moss                                                    Forcepts

               Light microscope                                 Paper towel

               Microscope slides                                Metric ruler

               Cover slip                                             Dropper

               Hand lens.   


                 SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES:

                   8 A.M.          =   Leave of the school  .

                   8.30 A.M.  :  =   Arrive to Black Rock Forest.

                   8.35 a.m.      =  Organize students in groups of three students and responsibities

                   8.40 a.m.      =  Distribution of materials ( rulers, plastic bags , markers, forceps , paper towel) 

                   8.45 a.m.     =   Present the power point presentation to introduce the non-vascular plants characteristics and the life cycle of a moss.

                   9.00 a.m.     =   Walk to the streams  close to the Science center.

                   9.15 a.m.     =    Place the moss plant in the paper towel  examine with the hands lens

                                              Measure their lengh  to millimeters..

                    9.30 a.m.    =     Walk to the black rock glacier

                    9.40 a.m.    =    Observe the moss  ( color texture , etc) take some samples.) time  spent in discussion

                    10..10 a.m. =     Arrive to the  Upper Reservoir 

                    10.20 a.m.  =      Observe the moss in this area,take samples,observe the  species using the hands lens.

                                               Measure the moss of the area, color, height, type of soil etc..

                    11..00 a.m.  =     Arrive to the Science center 

                     11.10 a.m.   =     Break 

                     11.15 a.m.   =     Complete the chart according to your observations ., Time spent in discussion

                     11.30 a.m.  =     Observation of the  moss using the hands lens.( parts , height, color , external structure etc.

                       12  a.m.     =     Observation of the moss cells using the microscope. Recognize chloroplasts .

                     12.15 a.m. =    Observation of the leaves structure .Draw and color.

                     12.30 a.m. =     Observation of the spore capsule at the end of the  brownish stalk .

                     12.30        =      Observation of the spores.Draw and color , label each part of the capsule and spores.

                     13.00        =      Answer the questions. Discuss the topic

                    13.30        =       Lunch

                    13.45       =        Return all the Lab materials  to their place .Clean  all the tables

                    14.00     =          Return to the school.. 





Pre-Forest Activity

       Students will recognize the difference in the plants : vascular and non vascular 

        Students will be introduce to the forest environment  using a You tube video related to the forest.

        Read the project of " The mosses  at Madre de Dios -Peru" to recognize the variety of leaves of mosses.


Forest Activity



            LAB 1.1 



              Interpret  data, use of microscope ,measure in SI , infer, make and use data table.


             Moss                                                    Forceps                             paper towel

              Light microscope                                 Metric ruler                        dropper

              Cover slip                                            Microscope slides              Hands lens


              1.- Copy the data table

               2.- Place  the moss plant on the paper towel and examine it with the hand lens.

               3.- Measure  in SI : find the hair like structures that act as roots for the moss. Measure their height to millimeters . Complete the table.

                4.- Observe the  stem part  with the hand lens. Complete the table for this part.

                5.- Observe the leaf parts with the hand lens.

                6.-  Use the forceps to remove the one of the leaves . make a wet  mount  slide  and observe the cell .

                7.- Find the chloroplasts in the cells Determine  how thick the leaf is moving the fine  focus  up and down.

                 8.- Recognize the  sexual  cells from the cell capsule.    

                                                         DATA   TABLE










Post-Forest Activity

           Students will use their data  table to do comparisons  between  the three places. Recognize the importance of the mosses in the ecosystems.

             Students will answer questions  related to the mosses :   Which part of the mosses are green?

":.                                                                                                    What  shapes  are mosses leaves ?




         How  are the green  parts used by a moss?

         Describe the overall  size of the plant.

         How many cell layers  are in the moss leaves?  


         Why do moss plants live in moist areas?


           Identify  the parts of a moss plant in the diagram:


             1.- How  do mosses  and liverworts take up water?

             2.- How are most important?

             3.- How do mosses reproduce?

             4.- How  might a mat of mosses protect the black rock forest floor?

              5.- What would be the effect on these plats if the climate  became drier?

Learning Standards

HS-LS2-1 Use mathematical and or computational representations to support explanations of biotic and abiotic factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.


HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.


HS-LS2-6 Evaluate the claims, evidence and reasoning that complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.

HS – LS2-7 Design, evaluate and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.


HS – LS2-8 Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior on
individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce.





             When we study plants , we need to classify them as vascular and non -vascular plants . A vascular plants are plants that present roots,leaves,flowers and fruits;

              but we observe that not all the plants present the same components , these plants are the non-vascular plants.Plants that don't have roots but they are very

              important components of the ecosystem. 

             You may have seen mosses as a lush ,green leafy mat at the floor of a forest or on rocks by a stream. A moss is a small non- vascular plant that has both stems and

              leaves but no roots.

               If you looked close to the ground  you may have seen  smaller patches of green plants  that looked wet and slippery . These are liverworts.  

               They are only few centimeters tall. Both species help hold the soil in place to keep it from washing away. 

               Mosses and Liverworts  are two very similar kinds of non-vascular plants , they are fixed to the surface of the ground or tree trunks by hair like cells that they take up



  1.     Student will be able to compare mosses and liverworts with other plants.

        2.   Sequence the steps in the life cycle of a moss.

        3.    How do leaves and stems of mosses and liverworts differ from those in vascular plants?

        4   . List three ways mosses are important to other living things.

        5.-   Conclude:  Why mosses are very important in the  soil preservation  at Black Rock Forest?.


        The Non-Vascular plants such Mosses and Liverworts are a very important factors in an ecosystem;  They have a fine,soft stems that often grow upright in mats. The leaves

         of  mosses are only one or two cells thick and they will soon dry out if taken from their moist environment.

          Leaf shapes of mosses vary and moss species can be classified by their leaves.The Liverworts don't have roots ,stems or leaves; the  body of these species is often flat

          that lies close to the ground or rock .,Some of them are food  for some animals such as worms  and snails.

          The non vascular plants such as mosses and liverworts  need constant supply of water to survive. They need  water for their sexual reproduction, because the female

           reproductive cell called egg joins with the male reproductive cell called sperm thank you to the water . The join of sperm and eggs is called fertilization.situation that we

           are going to observe in the life cycle of a moss.

           Exists an investigation  about the mosses " The Mosses at Madre de Dios , Peru " where the investigators found different types of mosses ,because the level of humidity is

           very high ,the altitude ,temperature and the type of soil permits the presence of different types of mosses..          

Safety Concerns


                            1.-    Students need to  arrive on time to take the bus .

                            2.-    Students need t use insect repellent.

                            3.-     Students need to use long sleeve  shirt  and long pants.  

                            4.-     Students need to use boots or sneakers.


         1.-This lesson could be used by Middle school students and High school students.

          2.- Teacher needs to  bring his projector  and laptop to present the lesson introduction. 

           3.- Do copies of the  lab.

           4.- Bring colors  and pencils ,