In this lesson students will learn that agriculture provides nearly all of the products we rely on in any given day by participating in a relay where they match an everyday item with its "source." Grades 9-12
Students will compare the components of beef and plant-based burgers by determining the production and processing methods of each product; evaluate the ingredients and nutritional differences between beef and plant-based products; and discuss different points of view in the agricultural industry concerning plant-based proteins and traditional beef. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12
Students will view the 2018 documentary Before the Plate and follow Canadian chef John Horne as he journeys to the source of ten primary food ingredients used in his restaurant. Using critical thinking skills, students will explore the farm-to-table journey of food. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12
Students will explore the carbon cycle and evaluate the carbon footprint of cattle. Using critical thinking skills, students will use the Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning model to determine the effect of cows’ methane production on the environment and investigate the extent cattle contribute to climate change. Grades 9-12
Students discover that topsoil is a nonrenewable resource and use an apple to represent how Earth’s land resources are used. Through critical thinking, students study agricultural land use and consider the sustainability of current land use practices including the use of land to feed and graze livestock animals. Grades 9-12
While many view bioengineered crops (GMOs) as a promising innovation, there is controversy about their use. This lesson provides students with a brief overview of the technology, equipping them with the ability to evaluate the social, environmental, and economic arguments for and against boengineered crops (GMOs). This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12
Students will view the film Farmland, a documentary spotlighting six farmers and ranchers in the United States. The film portrays the business and lifestyle of a variety of farmers and ranchers. Perspectives on topics such as bioengineered (GMO) crops, animal welfare, organic and conventional farming practices, farm size, farming stereotypes, and more are presented. Grades 9-12
Using various forms of maps, students will analyze public lands in the western United States, describe how ranchers raise food and fiber on federally owned land, and discuss different points of view concerning public lands use and public lands grazing. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12
Students will view the documentary Food Evolution to evaluate the polarized debate surrounding bioengineering (GMOs). In this film director, Scott Hamilton Kennedy travels from Hawaiian papaya groves to Ugandan banana farms, to cornfields in Iowa to document how agricultural technology can be used in such varied crop settings. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12
Students calculate the miles common food items travel from the farm to their plates and discuss the environmental, social, and economic pros and cons of eating local vs relying on a global marketplace for our food. Grades 9-12
Students will explore the causes of hunger, both domestically and globally; evaluate potential solutions for solving world hunger; and forecast the impact of a growing world population on current food supplies. Grades 9-12
Students will examine the impacts of the Columbian Exchange and identify the economic and cultural impacts of contemporary global agricultural trade. They will also explore how food choices influence patterns of food production and consumption. Grades 9-12
Students will evaluate food package labels, determine their meaning, and use the Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning model to determine the value of the label in relation to food production practices, nutrition, health, and food safety. Students will engage in critical thinking to recognize the impact of food package labels in relation to marketing, consumer perceptions of food, and farming practices. Grades 9-12
After exploring the science of energy and energy conversion, students will evaluate some environmental impacts of hog farming and explore technologies that minimize negative human impact by creating biogas energy from animal waste. Grades 9-12
Students evaluate the growth of human populations across time, analyze graphic data to make predictions about future population growth, research country statistics to evaluate demographic transition, and participate in a simulation of a village reliant on subsistence farming. Students begin to develop a sense for the Earth's carrying capacity and how humans have impacted it. Grades 9-12
Students observe soil ecosystems to investigate how human impact affects the biodiversity of soils using the Simpson's Index of Diversity. Then, students conduct an investigation using field corn to determine how the introduction of nitrogen fertilizers impact soil microorganisms and biodiversity. Grades 9-12
Students will explore the carbon cycle, evaluate natural and human-induced activities that drive the carbon cycle, and discover climate smart agricultural practices that can be used to produce our food. Grades 9-12
In this lesson students will identify common Thanksgiving foods and their farm source, determine if those foods can be produced locally, and locate the common origins of their Thanksgiving day dinner. Grades 9-12
Evaluate the agricultural advances of the Green Revolution, discover the contributions of Norman Borlaug, and discuss the impacts of this era from an economic, social, political, and environmental perspective. Grades 9-12
Explore concepts of sustainability by evaluating the water footprint (WF) of food. Students are introduced to irrigation practices throughout the world, consumptive and non-consumptive water use, and investigate the water requirements for various food crops. Grades 9-12
Do you have a complicated issue or problem to discuss with your students? Use a beach ball (or any other type of ball) to demonstrate why a person might have a different "point of view." This activity helps students recognize that every issue can be seen from different points of view.
Have your students discover their own global food network by playing Planet Food—a two-part interactive game that introduces the concepts of interdependence and globalization through the geography of food. In part one, students see the ways food on their plate creates a map that criss-crosses the world. Part two will call on their critical thinking and geographic decision-making skills in an investigative journey as they consider different values and points of view while making a bar of chocolate.
Play this game to experience the challenges and excitement of international trade. See if you can get the best price for the goods you sell and the biggest bargains for the goods you buy. Watch how the global economy is doing: the prices you'll be able to get and the deals you can make depend on how healthy the global economy is.
This book shows the progression of technology through history as human civilizations progressed from foraging to farming. Agriculture enabled humans to stop wandering from place to place to find food. This chapter book includes text as well as photographs and reproductions to illustrate the implementation of agriculture in our daily lives.
Imagine if the entire world's population were compiled into a village of 100 people. What would the demographics of that village be? This book helps students understand the similarities and differences of a global society. Comprehend the languages they speak, where they live, how much money they earn daily, and if they can read and write.
The 2021 Food and Farm Facts series features interesting and educational facts about food in America - how and where it is grown, and who produces it. Color photographs and USA Today-style graphics illustrate the many fascinating facets of today’s agriculture. The series includes a 32-page book with map insert.
A collection of maps and graphs that represent farms, food production, and many other statistics in the United States. These maps provide excellent illustrations for students to understand how climate and geography affects the production of food as well as to provide statistics about the economics of food production through the years and across the United States.
This interactive map allows users to select specific agricultural crops from a drop-down menu and see where those crops are grown in the United States. This map provides an excellent illustration for students to see how climate and geography impacts food production.
Use this interactive map to help students see how geography and climate affects the production of agricultural crops. The map has USDA statistics built in to allow your students to answer questions such as, "Which state(s) produce the most cattle?" "Where does [my state] rank nationally in corn production?" "What region of the United States produces the most cotton?" etc. There are many agricultural maps available including field crops such as corn, wheat, barley, and alfalfa in addition to fruit and vegetable crops, ornamental nursery crops, and livestock.
This media spotlight from National Geographic highlights food crop layers from MapMaker Interactive, displaying how many tons of cassava, potatoes, soybeans, yams, and other food crops were produced per country as an average from 2010 to 2012.
The World Food Programme (WFP) Live Hunger Map monitors food security in more than 90 countries and issues predictions where data is limited. The live map aims to identify areas that are currently food insecure or are sliding towards food insecurity. A static hunger map can be found if you click on "undernourishment" at the bottom of the page. It includes data from 2017-2019.
The global food system is balanced between the supply and demand of food and tethered to our environment. These high resolution PDFs demonstrate visually the complexity of agriculture. These maps highlight how the global food system is the balance between supply and demand of food as governed by geography and politics. These elements are divided into natural systems and human systems.
The documentary, FARMLAND was created to educate the public about farms and the source of their food. This documentary highlights six farmers and addresses organic vs conventional farming, risks involved with farming, the public perception of animal welfare, farming stereotypes, and the steps involved in producing an abundant supply of safe and nutritious food for a growing population. This film can be used to supplement secondary lessons.
This video is the first episode of the PBS series, "America Revealed." Show host Yul Kwon explores how the "Food Machine" (agriculture) feeds nearly 300 million Americans every day. The video highlights farm practices, machines which make the production of our food easier and more productive, and the requirements of nature and our natural resources in order to produce our food. This secondary resource addresses topics such as sustainability, GMOs, pests and pesticides, global food trade, and food marketing.
In this PBS production three families traveled back in time to the days of the Wild West, living as settlers did on the frontier in the 1880s. Each family took over their own 160-acre plot of homestead land in a remote region of Montana. They were then filmed as they built their homes, tended livestock, and planted crops, all without the assistance of modern technology. Their triumphs and frustrations provide a unique account of an important period of American history and a unique perspective on the practice and importance of agriculture.
Farmers have the biggest job on earth. The population is increasing — yet farmland isn't — so farmers have taken on the responsibility of producing more high-quality crops with fewer resources. This 3.5-minute video illustrates the remarkable improvements that have been made in agricultural efficiency and productivity while bringing home the challenges that the future holds. The attention-grabbing message makes for a great introduction to any lesson on agricultural production or careers in agriculture.
Both a book and a movie, Guns, Germs and Steel lays a foundation for understanding human history. Enter a 10,000 year journey through history and across every continent of the world to learn how and why human civilizations evolved from hunter-gatherers to a growing civilization and why some civilizations progressed faster than others. Learn how farming and the domestication of plants and animals impacted this evolution.
Use this 5-minute video to illustrate the complete process for developing a GMO through the scientific method and research. The Hawaiian papaya story is used as an example for resolving the papaya ring spot virus that had devastated the crop until a GMO variety was developed. Researchers and farmers turned to the development of GMOs as early as 1985 to improve the quality of plants to resist insects and disease while battling problems in production.
Learn how CRISPR gene editing is being studied and implemented to improve food. This form of gene editing holds promising applications to cure diseases and improve food. Can allergenic proteins in foods be removed? Can cassava be engineered to remove the cyanide responsible for growth stunting in malnourished children?
This comprehensive 21-minute video highlights the endeavors of one man who changed farming practices through science and policy. Hugh Hammond Bennet was a pioneer in soil conservation teaching farmers about soil erosion and other farming practices needing reform at this time in history.
View this 17-minute video to learn about the origins of corn. Discover how the domestication of corn impacted society and what plant domestic corn originates from. This video supports lessons on the domestication of plants and genetic evolution.
Peter Menzel is a freelance photojournalist known for his coverage of international feature stories on science and the environment, and his wife Faith D’Aluisio is a former award-winning television news producer. In this 14-minute talk, Menzel discusses the projects they have undertaken together, including publishing The Hungry Planet. He further explores the changes they have observed in what and how people eat around the world, touching on issues such as obesity and food security.
The Man Who Tried to Feed the World recounts the story of the man who would not only solve India’s famine problem, but would go on to lead a “Green Revolution” of worldwide agriculture programs, saving countless lives. He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work but spent the rest of his life watching his methods and achievements come under increasing fire. This documentary provides context for discussions about the Green Revolution, plant breeding methods, accomplishments in selective breeding, conserving natural resources, responding to political pressures, protecting the environment, and providing food to a growing population.
Use this 4-minute video to explore the benefits and challenges to vertical farming systems which utilize hydroponics to grow plants. Can the land and water conservation advantages outweigh the cost of creating artificial light?
This video clip provides a brief, but comprehensive introduction to GMOs. The video defines what a GMO is, the history of genetic engineering, how GMOs are created, what traits genetically modified crops exhibit, how traditional plant breeding differs from genetic engineering and how all methods of plant breeding have been used to improve crops through the years.
Find numerous infographics teaching fact from fiction about GMOs. These can be used to discuss and dispel common myths, illustrate the timeline of crop breeding and genetic modification, and discuss factors and solutions to agricultural sustainability.
What is Agricultural Biotechnology and how is it used? This informative text breaks down the questions surrounding biotechnology and how it is used for agricultural production. The article breaks down four topics: Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops, How Other Countries Gain Access to GE Technology, How Crops and Foods are Assessed for Safety, and Developing a Biosafety System.
During the Depression, cheap, nutritious and filling food was prioritized — often at the expense of taste. Although today the trend is "fresh," food preservation has been historically important. This article can help students see the impact of the Great Depression on American diets.
This supplemental resource was developed to provide content and labs about fertilizer’s role in federal regulations, such as the Clean Water Act. Additionally the supplement provides an overview of sustainability and 4R nutrient stewardship providing a lot of information as well as places for students to keep notes. This free, downloadable PDF can be requested from the Nutrients for Life Foundation.
A common misconception in agriculture is that large scale farming is "bad." This article discusses farm size, conventional vs organic food production, sustainability, and various cultivation practices designed to protect and preserve the environment.
Use this resource when discussing the future use and demand of fresh water. Sixty percent of the world's fresh water is used by farmers which has a large impact upon its availability in meeting the challenge of producing food for a growing population. This article explains how scientists in the southwest are developing tools for saving water with the help of satellites, computer models, remote sensors, and other types of technologies.
This website is published by the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. These briefings report on the most pressing environmental challenges facing the world today. Find answers to questions such as, Is climate change a risk to global grazing lands? Does food security depend on livestock? Where is livestock grazing most important?
GMO Answers is an educational website to answer your questions about GMO's, or Genetically Modified Organisms. You will find infographics, images, videos, posters, and handouts to use as learning tools.
The Peter Menzel Photography website provides an archive of the photos included in the Hungry Planet book, which depict everything an average family consumes in a week along with the food cost. These portraits provide a glimpse into kitchens from Norway to China to Mexico, raising questions about how culture and environment influence the cost and calories of diets around the world.
Ever wonder what foods the Vikings ate when they set off to explore the new world? How Thomas Jefferson made his ice cream? What the pioneers cooked along the Oregon Trail? Who invented the potato chip...and why? Welcome to the Food Timeline! Food history presents a fascinating buffet of popular lore and contradictory facts. Some people will tell you it's impossible to express this topic in exact timeline format. They are correct. Most foods we eat are not invented; they evolve.
How much thought have you given to the great American tractor? If you have food on your table, you have the tractor to thank for it. This website outlines the history and timeline of the tractor and how it has revolutionized farming.