National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Grow it Now, Drive it Later?
6 - 8
Students will discover potential careers in agriculture with a focus on the growing field of biofuel development.
- Ring stand or other type of can support, see Figure 1
- Aluminum pop can
- Pyrex pie plate or dish (optional)
- Flamin’ Hot Cheetos® (soybean oil)
- Peanuts, or dried algae
- Modeling clay to hold paperclip
- Large paperclip
- Graduated cylinder or beaker
- Celsius thermometer
- Lighter or stick match
- Projected visual of “Calorie Calculation”
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
algaculture: farming a species of algae
algae: a simple nonflowering plant of a large group that includes the seaweeds and many single-celled forms; contain chlorophyll but lack true stems, roots, leaves, and vascular tissue
biodiesel: a fuel made from vegetable oils or animal fats
ethanol: also known as ethyl alcohol which is produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts
petroleum: a naturally occurring liquid found in geological formations beneath the earth's surface which is often refined into fuel
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask your students this series of questions to help them begin thinking about fuel:
- "What is required to have in our cars, trucks, and other vehicles for them to run?" (Fuel)
- "Where does most fuel come from?" (Most fuels have a petroleum base. It is pumped from deep within the ground and then refined)
- "Are petroleum fuels a renewable or non-renewable resource?" (non-renewable)
- "Are there any types of fuel that are renewable?" (Yes, biofuels. Ask further questions and discuss the topic of biofuels, ethanol, biodiesel, etc. to determine your student's prior knowledge on the topic.)
- Use the ring stand to hold the aluminum can as pictured in Figure 1.
- Place a handful of modeling clay on the bottom of the ring stand or in a Pyrex dish at the bottom of the ring stand.
- Open one side of a large paperclip and place the bent portion into the clay as shown in Figure 2.
- Impale (spear) half a Cheeto onto the paper clip. (If you use more than half a Cheeto, you may set off a smoke detector.)
- Move the can to within two inches or five centimeters of the impaled Cheeto.
- Measure and add 100 milliliters of water to the can.
- Record the temperature of the water on the board. To find out how many calories are stored in the soybean oil in half a Cheeto, light the Cheeto and burn it to see how much energy is produced as noted by the rise in water temperature. See the attached "Calorie Calculation" activity sheet.
- Record the water temperature as soon as the flame burns out.
- Calculate the calories using the formula on the "Calorie Calculation" activity sheet.
- Repeat the procedure with a peanut or with algae.
- View algae oil videos from YouTube (search algae biofuel) or see the following:
How do you convert ml to grams?
One gram of water is always equal to 1 ml because that is its weight. For other substances, this is not necessarily true because different substances have different densities. For example, 1 ml of iron weighs about 7 grams; it is more dense than water.
1 ml of water = 1 gram
1 ml of iron = about 7 grams
- Based on the recorded measurements, ask the students to calculate the number of calories in half of a Cheeto. In addition to soybean oil energy, what other professional would need to know how to measure calories? (Nutritionists)
- Ask a pair of students to view an algae video from YouTube. New movies are added all the time, so go to YouTube and then search “algae biofuel.” Check the “Essential Links” section for more websites on algae biofuel movies. After the students have viewed the movies, ask each group to share something they have learned about algaculture (farming algae), a career associated with biofuels, and how this might affect what they drive later (biofuels can be used for cleaner electricity, electric cars?)
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Agricultural commodities such as corn or soybean oil can be used as a a source of fuel.
- Algae can be a source of fuel.
- Biofuels are considered a renewable energy source in comparison with fossil fuels which are a non-renewable energy source.
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)
- Burn a Peanut- Count Calories (Activity)
- Lab Investigation: Biodiesel (Activity)
- Pop Bottle Biodiesel (Activity)
- Full of Beans: Henry Ford Grows a Car (Book)
- Careers in Agriculture Videos (Multimedia)
- Feed, Nourish, Thrive (Careers Website) (Website)
- Into the Outdoors: Farm Science (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Identify sources of agricultural products that provide food, fuel, clothing, shelter, medical, and other non-food products for their community, state, and/or nation (T3.6-8.i)
- Identify the careers in food production, processing, and nutrition that are essential for a healthy food supply (T3.6-8.j)
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Identify renewable and nonrenewable energy sources (T2.6-8.d)
Education Content Standards
Career Ready Practices
CRP.10.1Identify career opportunities within a career cluster that match personal interests, talents, goals and preferences.
Plant Science Systems Career Pathway
PS.02.03Apply knowledge of plant physiology and energy conversion to plant systems.
MS-ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
MS-ESS3-4Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
MS-PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
MS-PS1-3Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
Common Core Connections
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Language: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4Determine 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.
Mathematics: Practice Standards
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP8Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Students notice if calculations are repeated, and look both for general methods and for shortcuts. As they work to solve a problem, students maintain oversight of the process, while attending to the details. They continually evaluate the reasonableness of their intermediate results.