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Can We Feed the Growing Population

Secondary

Description

Through six related activities, the resource uses an interactive format to examine how humans can conserve the agricultural resources that will be necessary in order to produce food long into the future.  The role of science and technology in achieving this goal is emphasized throughout and students use scientific reasoning and tools to complete the lessons in each activity.

Activity 1 Students complete an on-line tutorial to learn how to formulate a scientific argument. Concepts explored include evidence vs opinion, data sources and data analysis, levels of certainty and scientific reasoning.

Activity2 Using maps and data provided by the resource and an interactive on-line lesson, students explore the effects that human development has had over time, on agricultural land.

Activity 3 Students discuss how soils are formed and lost through erosion before completing an on-line lesson on soil conservation. 

Activity 4 Students analyze climate graphs and complete an interactive lesson to illustrate the relationship between climate, climate change and crop growth.

Activity 5 In this interactive lesson students examine those farming practices that help prevent erosion and improve soil fertility.

Activity 6 Students explore past methods that successfully increased agricultural production and make predictions about future yields in agricultural production.

Common to all activities is the use of computational models to make predictions. Each activity also draws attention to the “principle of uncertainty” and the concept of ‘stock and flow. 

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Analyzing data and forming an argument based on scientific reasoning.
  • Using computational models.

Strengths

  • The activities provide students with opportunities to use scientific tools and make predictions following the protocols of scientific reasoning.
  • The activities provide a balance of content and practice.
  • The resource effectively represents the potential and limits in the application of scientific reasoning.

Weaknesses

  • Some (but not all) of the models rely on US data.  Substitutions from Environment Canada can be found.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource will support teaching units at the secondary level that address land use, food production, soils, human impact on the environment and scientific reasoning.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Sustainable land use is essential to meet the needs of a growing population
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 2 Science: Dynamics of Ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Food Supply: Production and Distribution
  • New Brunswick
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Advanced Environmental Science 120: Earth Systems
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 2200: Ecosytems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: Land Use & the Environment
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography 3200/3202: Ecosystems
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Sustainability of Ecosystems
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Biology: Sustainable Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Forces of Nature: Physical Processes and Disasters (Univ./College Prep.): The Physical Environment: Sustainability and Stewardship
        • Introduction to Spacial Technologies: (Open):Using Spacial technologies to Support Sustainability and Stewardship
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Human-Environment Interactions
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth and Space Science(Univ. Prep) Introduction to Earth Sciences
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 421A: Sustainability of Ecosystems
        • Science 431A: Life Science, Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Human Population and Carrying Capacity
  • Quebec
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
        • Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10:Population
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 20: Terrestrial Systems
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Weather
  • Food & Agriculture (3)

    • Biotechnology
    • Conventional Farming
    • Food Security
  • Science and Technology (1)

    • Analysing Conventional Science

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

The inquiries are largely data driven.  Alternate perspectives are included where appropriate (eg. the discussion of GMOs).

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory

Little attention is paid to economic influences in land use as it relates to agriculture.  However, the discussion at the conclusion of Activity 2 (Using the Land) provides an excellent opportunity to explore the interplay of all three dimensions.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The complexity of the challenge in producing more food on a shrinking amount of available land is made clear.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

Action opportunities have not been included.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Much of the guided discussion following each activity involves asking students based on what they have learned: "Why do you think....." and "How do you feel....".

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

While attention is given to the global disparities in agricultural opportunities and production that are at play, social impacts are not specifically addressed.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The impact of humans on the earth and its agricultural ecosystems in particular is a significant theme of the resource.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Poor/Not considered

The learning activities have a global focus.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The data and computational models used in the activities effectively address the past, present and future challenges in producing enough food to feed our population.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students arrive at answers based on their own analysis of actual data and by applying the computational models provided with the activities.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

The resource addresses themes in science, social studies, geography and technology.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Students participate in interactive lessons, on-line tutorials and in-class discussions.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The data and tools for analysis are drawn from real events.  Students are taught scientific reasoning and given the opportunity to practice it. 

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

It is suggested that much of the research be done in pairs or small groups.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Suggestions for formative assessment accompany all of the interactive lessons.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

Peer teaching is not a focus of this resource beyond cooperative learning discussions taking place within pairs or small groups.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good

Activities are built on real data and current modelling techniques. 

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Poor/Not considered
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.