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Agriculture and the Environment

The concept of "risk" is a huge component to the concepts in these six lessons about natural resources and their ties to agriculture. Students first learn the risks and reasons associated with some agricultural practices. Then, they will explore potential solutions for the various risks agricultural pratices could have on our natural resources. [permalink]
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Aquarium Gravel Vacuum

Just like we rely on clean, fresh air to breathe, aquatic animals depend on clean, fresh water to do the same. A gravel vacuum is an excellent way to keep a tank clean and students will design their very own in this puzzler. [permalink]
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Bringing Biotechnology to Life

This lesson is jam packed with 9 hours of lessons surrounding the concepts of biotechnology, DNA, GMO's, and more! After taking on the role of a researcher, learning about the future of how their food is being grown, students will apply their knowledge about these topics, including genetic engineering, to establish where they stand. [permalink]
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California Wildfires Task

In this high school task, students evaluate and compare sources of information presented in different formats to explore what is causing wildfires, the negative impacts of wildfires on biodiversity and human communities, and several potential forest management strategies to mitigate these impacts in two different areas of California. This task intends to elicit student learning of the following NGSS dimensions:

Disciplinary Core Ideas
  • ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems (HS)
Science and Engineering Practices
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information (HS)
Crosscutting Concepts
  • Scale, Proportion, and Quality (HS)
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Curds Lab Activity

How does milk become cheese? This lab activity shows students the science behind milk curds. Students will wonder why the milk changes once acidic lemon juice is added and explore science through the lens of their food! [permalink]
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Dive In

Water is undoubtably one of our most important resources. In this lesson, students use driving questions to discover the agricultural significance of water sources, why water is needed to produce and maintain life, and how they can responsibly use water. They will then use their new skills and knowledge to create a presentation based on careers related to water that they are most interested in. [permalink]
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Energy Resources

These 15 middle school and high school lessons engage students in activities rooted in collaboration, critical thinking, and innovation. Students will participate in various labs, examine case studies, research careers in energy, and more...all while gaining valuable knowledge surrounding the uses and types of energy involved in the different stages of producing agriculture commodities. [permalink]
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Extreme Heat Educator Guide

Its no surprise that the weather we experience every day directly impacts the world of agriculture. But what exactly are the results of these weather impacts on food supply, crop health, and soil viability? Well, NASA's Jet Propultion Laboratory and resources from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture are here to help students discover the answers through 5 activity based lessons! [permalink]
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Farming Systems

In this middle school task, students evaluate two competing solutions for soil management, conventional tillage and no-tillage, to determine how each system impacts soil health and crop production. This task intends to elicit student learning of the following NGSS dimensions:

Disciplinary Core Ideas
  • ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems (MS)
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions (MS)
Science and Engineering Practices
  • Engaging in Arguments from Evidence (MS)
  • Developing and Using Models (MS)
Crosscutting Concepts
  • Patterns (MS)
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Food Fermentation

In this middle school task, students develop an explanation for how one organism’s (lactobacillus) population growth in an ecosystem may cause the population growth of other organisms in the same ecosystem to decrease. The ecosystem students explore is food. This task intends to elicit student learning of the following NGSS dimensions:

Disciplinary Core Ideas
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems (MS)
Science and Engineering Practices
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data (MS)
  • Engaging in Arguments from Evidence (MS)
Crosscutting Concepts
  • Cause and Effect (MS)
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Frog Fungus

In this high school task, students evaluate a series of mathematical models to determine how a mysterious fungus impacts various populations in a pond ecosystem. This task intends to elicit student learning of the following NGSS dimensions:

Disciplinary Core Ideas
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems (HS)
  • LS2.C: Ecosystems Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience (HS)
Science and Engineering Practices
  • Developing and Using Models (HS)
Crosscutting Concepts
  • Cause and Effect (HS)
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Genetics Task

In this middle school task, students will write an argument that justifies the selection of a particular bull to be mated with a group of cattle to meet the criteria set forth by the producer. First, students will identify trait heritability and make connections between trait heritability and making cattle produce beef more efficiently. Then, students review basic probability of outcomes for calf traits based on the expected differences between two bulls. Students are introduced to a concept called Expected Progeny Difference. Next, students are asked to focus on a growth production trait and compare the genetic difference between two calves on several economically and environmentally important traits. Last, students justify a decision to select a particular bull to be used in a selective breeding program to get the desired outcome. [permalink]
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Grazing Task

Based on the concept of rotational grazing, this elementary task takes students on a journey to learn about how cattle and the ecosystem are deeply intertwined. Matter cycles, food webs, and interdependent relationships all come into play as students explore how various agriculture practices can cause an ecosystem to improve. [permalink]
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Greenhouse Gases and Cattle

Using the results from a hands-on energy flow lab, students will use this lab knowledge to build upon and explore how a beef animal's diet directly affects their output of methane emissions and the biogenic carbon cycle. Students will begin to see the correlation between the energy inputs and outputs associated with cattle systems as they search for answers to the overall question of - "What can cattle raisers, scientists, and consumers do to reduce the amount of methane gas produced by cattle?" [permalink]
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Lactose Persistence

This phenomenon explores the frequencies of lactose persistence worldwide. It offers an opportunity for students to see the changing nature of science. [permalink]
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Mini Aquaponic System

Aquatic animals and fish have a symbiotic relationship. Students will study this relationship as they research aquaponics and build a functioning prototype where fish and animals can grow strong and flourish together. [permalink]
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Miniature Greenhouse

This puzzler encourages students to think of reasons greenhouses are used in production agriculture and why they are so important to food security. These reasons will serve as the basis for understanding as students create their own miniature greenhouses. [permalink]
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Monday, Tuesday, Happy Graze

This high school task focuses on human impacts on earth systems. Throughout the task, students evaluate two different grazing techniques as possible strategies to manage natural resources. Students interpret a model, calculate data, and read an article to gather information to decide on the best resource management system to maximize profits and minimize negative impacts on biodiversity. This task intends to elicit student learning of the following NGSS dimensions:

Disciplinary Core Ideas
  • ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems (HS)
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions (HS)
Science and Engineering Practices
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data (HS)
  • Engaging in Arguments from Evidence (HS)
Crosscutting Concepts
  • Cause and Effect (HS)
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More Cheese, Please

In this middle school task, students use models and data to explain why lactose intolerant people experience lots of gas, bloating and diarrhea when they eat certain dairy products. Here, students explore models of lactose-tolerant and lactose-intolerant people to see how the inputs, outputs, and processes of each person’s digestive systems affect how they function to process dairy products. They then develop their own comparative model to explain why only lactose intolerant people experience these painful symptoms. At the end of the task, students examine new data to recommend what types of dairy products lactose intolerant people might eat to cause less painful symptoms. This task intends to elicit student learning of the following NGSS dimensions:

Disciplinary Core Ideas
  • LS1.A: Structure & Function (MS)
Science and Engineering Practices
  • Developing and Using Models (MS)
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data (MS)
Crosscutting Concepts
  • Systems and Systems Models (MS)
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Natural Filtration

Can sand, rocks, soil, and plants actually make water cleaner? Sure they can! In this puzzler, students are tasked with creating a natural filtration system using materials found in nature. [permalink]
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Toolkit

Phenomena Toolkit

Produced in 2019, the phenomena toolkit is funded by the Beef Checkoff and details a small catalog of phenomena found in beef production. This resource is useful for identifying a starting point of student sense-making. Each phenomena includes a brief description, key concepts, an NGSS PE bundle, and essential questions. [permalink]
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Photosynthesis

No photos for photosynthesis...only videos! In this puzzler, students are challenged to create a 2-minute video demonstrating the process of photosynthesis. Creativity and prop use are encouranged, as are the use of key vocab words like glucose and carbon dioxide! [permalink]
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Rain Barrels

What is a rain garden and how do I build one? This is the question students will work to asnwer as they reseach the effects of water runoff into aquatic ecosystems. By designing and developing a prototype at their school, students will feel accomplished knowing they are making a difference for the aquatic life in their area! [permalink]
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Room to Grow Purple Plow Challenge

Food accessibility and availability solutions are at the core of this year's challenge. Students are encouraged to design creatively and build fearlessly with one end goal in mind: to help solve the fundamental problem of available resources in association with population growth by constructing a functioning greenhouse complete with yield analytics. [permalink]
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Soil Task

In this middle school task, students use their knowledge of soil, soil weathering, soil properties, grassland ecosystems, cattle grazing, and the relationship between the soil and other moving parts of grassland ecosystems to make predictions about the impacts of rainfall to the ecosystems as well as the resources available to humans. As students make sense of the impacts grazing has on soil ecosystems, they must use and analyze data to construct a model to explain these cause-and-effect patterns. [permalink]
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Full Unit

Supercattle

In this high school Storyline unit on genetics and heredity, students are introduced to ‘SuperCows’. As they explore the vast variety of cattle breeds, students discover that cattle are specialized for different purposes and while similar, the ‘SuperCows’ are clearly unique. Students wonder what caused this diversity and specificity which leads to investigations about the role of inheritance, DNA and proteins. [permalink]
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Toolkit

Unit Starter Toolkit: Soil

This middle school life science unit starter toolkit provides anchoring and investigative phenomena, content, and learning design ideas for teachers and developers to build a three-dimensional unit or learning sequence featuring the science of soils. Soil is a living ecosystem, full of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes, and it supports plant, animal, and human life. The capacity for soil to support various living organisms and systems, including agriculture systems, is based on the characteristics of the soil, and in many cases, the management of the soil as a complex resource. This toolkit was designed by teachers and supported by agricultural subject matter experts. We hope that you will use this toolkit to help you plan, adapt, and develop experiences for students. [permalink]
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Water Cycle

Water is a key component to food production, but how does water get to the plant and how can we best predict what will happen to the rest of the water? Students will study the process of the water cycle before they build a model that demonstrates this movement of water on the earth's surface. [permalink]
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Water Stewardship

In this middle school life sciences task, students will evaluate existing beef cattle production/industry practices and determine their impact on water quality and biodiversity. Using scientific evidence for support, students will identify potential solutions that could improve key biodiversity variables among water ecosystems. [permalink]
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