hardiness zone: a geographically-defined zone in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by temperature hardiness, or ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone
crop regions: certain crops grow in specific regions of Minnesota and the United States based on influencing environmental factors (Frost free periods, mean average temperature and rainfall)
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.3
Although there are thousands of plants, 90% of the food we eat comes from just 30 plants.
Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world; it can grow 35 inches in a single day.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
Ask student to think about the many times a day they touch or eat things that come from plant materials. Our world consists of an unimaginable number of products originating with plants. Students are likely touching several as they sit in a chair and take notes in their notebooks. Plants are a major part of daily life in several forms.
As a class, make a list of plant products found in the classroom.
Inform students that in this lesson they will:
Identify why plants are critical for all life on Earth.
List plant products found in your everyday world.
Explain why certain plants are grown in certain regions of the United States.
Compare and contrast the growing conditions in various areas of the country.
Summary of Content and Teaching Strategies
Present and discuss Teacher Material- Surrounded by Plants. Have students brainstorm examples for each of the ways humans use plant material.
Distribute a copy of Handout A- Surrounded by Plants to each student. Review the handout and answer any questions. Have students complete the triangle in Figure 1. In Part 2 of the activity, students will research the common growing regions for one crop from each category in Figure 1. The directions instruct students to print off a United States map from the 50states.com website. Using this map, students shade growth regions using colored pencils for one crop from each use category. Use a different color for each crop and label the colors in a map legend. Students must incorporate the "TODALS" (title, orientation, date, author, legend and scale) map basics into the map they create.
Students will need to research medicinal crops separately. The following are common medicinal crops to consider providing to students who need assistance in this category:
Saint John’s Wort
Once Part 2 is completed, students access hardiness zone and precipitation websites to determine the climate correlations to the production regions shaded on their maps. This activity provides an understanding of why certain crops are grown in certain regions due to their dependence upon climate conditions.
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following agricultural literacy concepts:
Plants are an important part of our every day lives.
Plants provide food, fiber, medicines, fuel and aesthetics to our daily life.
The value of plants is increased when they are processed. For example, cotton is made into fabric, corn and soybeans can be processed into fuel, and various parts of plants can be harvested and processed into medicine.
Some plants grow naturally and others are produced on farms.
How could a change in climate affect agriculture and the growth of plants?
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Get a large wall chart of the United States and have each student add different crops to it in order to summarize crop-growing regions of the United States. Next have students research the social, economic, and ecological risks and benefits of changing a natural ecosystem as a result of human activity. Ask them how these changes might influence crop-growing regions in the future. Students have researched environmental factors that affect where plants grow. Take this idea a step further and investigate how carrying capacity influences the population of particular plants. After further research, ask students to describe factors that affect the carrying capacity of an ecosystem and relate these to population growth.
Adapted from: Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (2012) Principles of Agricultural Science – Plant. [Curriculum materials for secondary agricultural education instruction.] Lexington, KY.
Parker, R. (2010). Plant and soil science: Fundamentals and applications. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar. An Introduction to Plant Science is found on pages 174-184 and additional information on climate data is found on pages 247-257.
The advantages of coordinating multiple geographic representations-such as maps, globes, graphs, diagrams, aerial and other photographs, remotely sensed images, and geographic visualizations to answer geographic questions.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.