National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
6 - 8
This lesson plan introduces the high-tech aspects of agricultural production and explores the related careers.
- Science in Your Shopping Cart booklet (PDF)
- Science in Your Shopping Cart PowerPoint Presentation
- Science in Your Shopping Cart video
- Agricultural Science and Technology Worksheet, one for each student
- Modern Marvels: Harvesting Technology, video/DVD
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes; the carrier of genetic information
genetically modified food: genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur through a normal reproductive process (e.g., through the introduction of a gene from a different organism)
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Thanks to GPS tractors, combines, sprayers and more can accurately drive themselves through a field. The GPS guidance is great because it removes human error from overlap, saving fuel and equipment hours.
- Telematics allows a farmer's equipment (machines) to talk to the farmer, equipment dealers, and even other equipment. Depending upon a problem, a farmer might not even have to speak to a mechanic to find out what is wrong. The machine would diagnose the problem and order the part from an equipment dealer.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Begin introducing the lesson by asking the following questions and holding a class discussion:
- How do science and technology solve agricultural problems?
- What role does the consumer have in determining what items are found on supermarket shelves?
- Are more career opportunities related to being a food producer or a consumer? Explain your answer.
- In this lesson students will learn the answers to these questions and begin to understand the high-tech nature of our food production and the careers related to it.
- Assign each pair or small group of students one of the products listed on the Agricultural Science and Technology Worksheet. You may want to provide each group with a picture of the product they have been assigned. Alternatively, a “real” food or nonfood product on the list may be used to add interest.
- Review the Science in Your Shopping Cart PowerPoint presentation, slides 1-5, and discuss the scientific changes that are sometimes used to change particular crops, animals, and resulting foods.
- Ask each pair/group to write down, on their Agricultural Science and Technology Worksheet, the scientific changes they think have been applied to the development of the product they have been given (there may be more than one).
- View with your students the video Science in Your Shopping Cart (streams from the Internet or purchase the DVD). Ask students to write down the actual scientific changes all the products shown in the video have undergone to get that product to the consumer.
- After viewing the video, ask students if they guessed the scientific changes correctly. Students will notice that not all the products were shown in the video. Provide each group with a copy of the Science in Your Shopping Cart booklet (order or view online) to complete the worksheet.
- Show students slides 6 and 7 in the PowerPoint presentation for a few other examples of food science.
- Technology is the application of science. To further demonstrate science and technology used in agriculture, view with students the video/DVD Modern Marvels: Harvesting Technology (order online from the History Channel).
- Students can then complete the last column on the Agricultural Science and Technology Worksheet. This video details harvesting technology for the following: GPS/GIS wheat, cotton, rice, sugar beets, tomatoes, walnuts, olives, lettuce, grapes, and oranges.
- Review with students the Concerns About Food Science, the last five slides in the Science in Your Shopping Cart PowerPoint presentation. Here are some questions for discussion:
- Are the food products safe to eat?
- Do the benefits of GMO foods outweigh the risks?
- What is on the horizon in food science?
- What is left to invent?
- What are some career opportunities in the area of food science and food technology?
- How many people have really made a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk?
- From farm to fork: how much science is in your shopping cart?
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- The production of our food uses high tech science.
- Science and technology has enabled farmers to produce more food on less ground and with fewer inputs.
- As science and technology advances, some consumers resist which can serve as a disadvantage.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Suggested Companion Resources
- An Agricultural Interview (Activity)
- Endless Options (Activity)
- Have a Ball - Your Sphere of Influence (Activity)
- Agricultural Research Magazine (Book)
- GMO Infographics (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Living Science Career Cards (posters or mini-posters) (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Agricultural Careers Prezi (Multimedia)
- CRISPR: Gene Editing and Beyond (Multimedia)
- Drones and the Future of Farming Video (Multimedia)
- Fighting Weeds: Can we reduce, or even eliminate herbicides by utilizing robotics and AI? (Multimedia)
- Genetically Engineered Crops Report (Multimedia)
- How Can CRISPR Improve Food? (Multimedia)
- Learn GMO (Multimedia)
- Modern Marvels: Harvesting (Multimedia)
- The Future of Farming & Agriculture video (Multimedia)
- What Happens When Farming Goes High-Tech? (Multimedia)
- Science in Your Shopping Cart (Booklets & Readers)
- Garden Genetics: Teaching With Edible Plants (Teacher Reference)
- Gourmet Lab: The Scientific Principles Behind Your Favorite Foods (Teacher Reference)
- Agricultural Biotechnology Questions and Answers (Website)
- Crop Science Career Profiles (Website)
- Feed, Nourish, Thrive (Careers Website) (Website)
- GMO Answers (Website)
- Genetic Science Learning Center (Website)
- Mandarin Oranges: Protecting the Flavor of This Popular Fruit (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
- Discuss how technology has changed over time to help farmers/ranchers provide more food to more people (T4.6-8.d)
- Explain how and why agricultural innovation influenced modern economic systems (T4.6-8.e)
- Identify science careers related to both producers and consumers of agricultural products (T4.6-8.g)
- Provide examples of science and technology used in agricultural systems (e.g., GPS, artificial insemination, biotechnology, soil testing, ethanol production, etc.); explain how they meet our basic needs, and detail their social, economic, and environmental impacts (T4.6-8.i)
Education Content Standards
Biotechnology Systems Career Pathway
BS.01.01Investigate and explain the relationship between past, current and emerging applications of biotechnology in agriculture (e.g., major innovators, historical developments, potential applications of biotechnology, etc.).
Career Ready Practices
CRP.10.1Identify career opportunities within a career cluster that match personal interests, talents, goals and preferences.
NCSS 8: Science, Technology, and Society
Objective 1Science is the result of empirical study of the natural world, and technology is the application of knowledge to accomplish tasks.
Objective 2Society often turns to science and technology to solve problems.
Objective 4Science and technology have had both positive and negative impacts upon individuals, societies, and the environment in the past and present.
Objective 5Science and technology have changed peoples' perceptions of the social and natural world, as well as their relationship to the land, economy and trade, their concept of security, and their major daily activities.
Objective 6Values, beliefs, and attitudes that have been influence by new scientific and technological knowledge (e.g., invention of the printing press, conceptions of the universe, applications of atomic energy, and genetic discoveries).
Objective 8Science and technology sometimes create ethical issues that test our standards and values.
Objective 9The need for laws and policies to govern scientific and technological applications.
Objective 10That there are gaps in access to science and technology around the world.
NCSS 9: Global Connections
Objective 3Spatial relationships that relate to ongoing global issues (e.g., pollution, poverty, disease, and conflict) affect the health and well-being of Earth and its inhabitants.
Objective 4Global problems and possibilities are not generally caused or developed by any one nation.
MS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
MS-LS1-5Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
MS-LS4-4Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
MS-LS4-5Gather and synthesize information about technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.