What's Going On?

Alien shapes

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 9 – 11

Science topics:

Living things and their habitats , Plants , Evolution and inheritance

Spark a conversation with this video showing an unusual flower. This activity is great for describing observations and applying ideas in unfamiliar contexts.

Run the activity

1. You’re going to watch a short video. The aim isn't to find right answers, it's to explore ideas and find out what they know.

  • Do they know what might happen based on the image?

2. After you've watched the video, lead a discussion with your class:

  • Do the pupils know they're looking at a plant? How?
  • How does this plant compare with plants they have seen before? 
  • Can they identify any parts of this plant?
  • How do they think this plant may, or may not, be suited to its environment?

3. Ask the class to describe what they saw using only one word.

Background science

Flowering plants have developed different ways to attract pollinators. We're most familiar with seeing beautiful flowers, or being enticed with sweet perfume but this plant, the Titan arum is a stinker. Yes truly – this huge plant puts lots of energy into heating itself up to our body temperature and producing the foul stench of rotting meat to attract flies and beetles to carry out pollination. It has evolved to exploit a particular niche. Producing lots of heat is costly to the plant in terms of the energy it needs, so the flower lasts only a few days, which means that this method of attracting pollinators has to be successful to complete the reproductive cycle.

Take it further

Our sense of smell and taste are linked. Have you tried the Terrific Scientific taste investigations?

Our 'What makes something a plant?' activity is the perfect follow-on to this one. Let your class research ideas to identify the characteristics of a plant.

What other adaptatons can you think of in plants? How have our native plants evolved to colonise a habitat?


Image credit: Beyond DC via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0;

Video credit: Eden Project All Rights Reserved;

Audio credit: Calimba via YouTube Audio Library