AgMag Winter 2019 Lesson and Activity Ideas

Lesson Ideas

Food Systems Feed the World

Students will explore the steps and processes that create a agriculture or food system and gain an understanding of hunger as it relates to the physical well-being, culture, and geographic location of all people. Students will learn what a food system encompasses, create a "food system chain," and discuss why hunger still exists despite modern advances that have made the US food system highly efficient.

Powerful Potato

Students will explore life science concepts by observing a potato grow with and without soil. They will further learn about geography and world cultures by charting potato geography on a world map and holding a potato dress up contest

Journey 2050 Lesson 4: Economy

Students will explain why economics are important to sustainability, describe the relationship between a sustainable economy and the environment, develop a model demonstrating how agricultural production creates a ripple effect that impacts local and global economies and social stability, and discuss how investments build an economy.

Where Does It Come From?

Students will explore the connection between geography, climate, and the type of agriculture in an area by reading background information and census data about the agricultural commodities beef, potatoes, apples, wheat, corn, and milk.

Activity Ideas

  • Identify students' favorite foods and research how each food or ingredient moves through the steps of the agricultural system (production, processing, distributing, marketing, consuming and disposing.
  • Gather as many different potato varieties as possible.  Encourage students to make visual observations about the characteristics of these potatoes and sort them into groups.  Characteristics to look at: skin color, flesh color, shape, size, smoothness and roughness of skin, size and depth of eyes and any others that students notice!
  • Introduce students to the idea of a value-added product. Value-added products are defined by the USDA as having: A change in the physical state or form of the product (such as milling wheat into flour or making strawberries into jam). The production of a product in a manner that enhances its value (such as organically produced products).  Brainstorm as many different value added potato products that consumers can purchase as possible. Examples include: potato chips, french fries, hash browns, and many more! Inspire students to use their creativity to develop a new value added potato product such as a new flavor of potato chips or a frozen potato product.
  • Challenge students to design an experiment that focuses on the environmental factors that affect the growth of potatoes.  Ideas include: planting potato pieces “eyes up” or “eyes down”, Placing potato pieces in water to see if they will sprout without soil, varying the type of soil (sandy, clay, etc.), moisture, and/or light.
  • Utilize the resources in the Minnesota Historical Society’s Northern Lights textbook and educator resources to explore the circular flow model’s application to the flour milling, lumber. and iron mining industries in Minnesota’s history and today.
  • Investigate how the agricultural changes listed on page 7 such as new technology, hybrid seeds, and commercial fertilizers and have impacted corn and soybean production in Minnesota. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (link: http://www.mncorn.org/) and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (https://mnsoybean.org/ ) might be helpful in this investigation.

Additional MAITC Resources

Food for Thought

Cream of the Crop: A Harvest of Specialty Crop Lessons

Ag Products Poster

History of Minnesota Ag