Problem: Given the environment and the extant diversity at some point in the evolutionary history of plants, what traits might increase fitness?
Analysis would include
assessing the unexploited resources and challenges in the environment
identifying or imagining plant traits or processes that can use resources or escape challenges in a way that increases reproductive success.
Students have shown great creativity in imagining new or new combos of traits. This was after an introduction to two ecosystems, and that foundational knowledge was both a good scaffold and an evident source of bias in their ideas. One idea is to use this scaffolding bias as a tool to limit the problem solving to a class of traits like those affecting life history. The life histories of plants is a new idea for many (most?) students, and specifically, the life history evolution that accompanied the evolution of plants can be a unique, fascinating discovery. It inspired this student to study evolution!