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Utah Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

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Lesson Plans (5)

Apples and the Science of Genetic Selection

Students will distinguish between natural and artificial selection and use a student-centered learning activity to see how science and genetics have been used to artificially select apples for specific traits like color, texture, taste, and crispness. Grades 9-12

Double the Muscle: Probabilities and Pedigrees

This lesson allows students to apply the concept of Mendelian genetics and learn about the double muscling trait found in cattle. Students will apply their knowledge of genetics and Punnett squares to calculate the probability of genotypes and use a pedigree chart. Grades 9-12

Melons, Mitosis and Meiosis

Students will apply the steps of mitosis and meiosis to learn about the production of both seeded and seedless watermelon. Students will learn about the discovery of colchicine, which made seedless watermelon possible and use modeling clay and beans to model meiosis and mitosis. Grades 9-12

Strawberry Breeding and Genetics

Students learn about DNA by extracting it from strawberries. Students also analyze the similarities and differences of their extraction process to those on Genetic Engineering: The Journey of a Gene. Students learn how genetic testing (including DNA extraction) is useful in breeding new varieties of strawberries. Grades 9-12

The Science of a GMO

Students will compare and contrast methods of selective plant breeding, describe the scientific process of creating a genetically modified plant, compare genetically modified soybean seeds to conventional soybean seeds, describe the impact weeds have on plant growth, and understand how a genetically modified seed can help farmers manage weeds. Grades 9-12

Companion Resources (15)

How to Extract DNA from Anything Living
Use these detailed instructions to add a DNA extraction activity to a science lesson on genetics and DNA.
Modeling Selective Breeding with Starburst®
In this activity students will model the process of selective breeding using Starburst® candies to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this breeding technique.
Targeted Genome Editing
In this activity, high school students develop an understanding of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system and create an infographic (or poster or model) to demonstrate their understanding of the system.
The Making of a New Apple Cultivar
This high school activity introduces students to apple growing and shows them how selective breeding is used to benefit both the apple grower and consumer by producing a new and better-quality apple.
Strawberry DNA Necklace
This kit allows students to take home visible proof that plants have DNA. Each kit contains enough supplies for 100 students to make their own DNA necklace. The kit contains cheesecloth, funnels, pipettes, test tubes, flasks, microcentrifuge tubes, and yarn, all in a sturdy plastic storage container. Refill kits are also available. Order this kit online from
Wheat Germ DNA Necklace
Is there DNA in my food? Absolutely! Each variety of wheat has DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that gives it certain genetic traits or characteristics. Use this kit to extract and observe strands of DNA from wheat germ. Kit includes test tubes, stir sticks, pipettes, microcentrifuge tubes, and yarn with enough supplies for a classroom of students. The Wheat Germ DNA Necklace kit complements the lesson Wheat Germ DNARefill kits are also available. Order this kit online from
Have We Engineered the Perfect Apple? video
It took over 30 years to create the perfect apple. Find out how scientists designed the Honeycrisp to be the best.
How Are GMOs Created?
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. 
How CRISPR Lets You Edit DNA
Explore the science of the groundbreaking technology for editing genes, called CRISPR- Cas9. Discover how the tool could be used to cure diseases.
Top 10 Foods That Originally Looked Totally Different
Everyday foods, fruit and veggies used to look totally different before we started cultivating them. But did you know they haven’t always looked like they currently do? Here are 10 fruits and veggies that looked very different before we started cultivating them!
Teacher Reference
Garden Genetics: Teaching With Edible Plants
Tired of teaching genetic concepts with the same old pink petunias and Mendel’s peas? With Garden Genetics, you can present core content in ways that are fun for students and fresh for you. This two-part set—a teacher edition and companion student edition—is adaptable to biology students at all levels, including AP. It uses a series of activities and inquiry-based experiments with familiar foods to teach genetics while helping students make connections to ecology, evolution, and plant biology. 
This website contains information and flash videos to supplement lessons on genetics, DNA, and heredity. You will find informative videos answering questions such as What are Genes? What are SNPs? Where do your Genes Come From? and What are Phenotypes?
DNA Learning Center
The DNA Learning Center (DNALC) is the world's first science center devoted entirely to genetics education and is an operating unit of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an important center for molecular genetics research. The DNALC website provides links to a family of educational Internet sites that cover broad topics, including basic heredity, genetic disorders, eugenics, the discovery of the structure of DNA, DNA sequencing, cancer, and plant genetics.  
Genetic Science Learning Center
The Genetic Science Learning Center provides many teaching tools to supplement lessons on genetics, heredity, cells, cloning, and more. You will find virtual labs and simulations, graphics, and animations.
Journey of a Gene
This website engages students in the genetic engineering process in a problem and solution format. The video series describes a plant disease in soybeans and then illustrates the steps in genetic engineering that could be employed to develop seeds that are resistant to the disease.