This lesson focuses on how climate change impacts agriculture. Students focus on how heat extremes and changes in precipitation will affect crop yields.
Step 1 - Inquire: Students watch videos showing how climate change will impact agriculture. Students create a hypothesis that states how high heat and increased amounts of water might affect the germination of seeds.
Step 2 - Investigate: Students set up an experiment within the classroom and then observe their crops for a set amount of weeks, collecting data on their data sheets.
Step 3 - Inspire: Students write a conclusion showing the results of the data they collected and make a comparison between their experiment and climate change.
Students are actively engaged in how differences in temperature and precipitation may affect crops grown in New Jersey.
Students practice the skill of designing a scientific investigation.
This lesson requires one block of 50 minutes for setting up the experiments and writing hypotheses. Students will need to observe their plants growing every few days. The students should have a final 50-minute block to write up the results of their experiment.
Teachers should have the supplies to grow the crops in the classroom, including:
Access to a water source
Access to a window or heat lamps or ability to plant outside
Teachers should have ways to control water. Students can individually water their own plants with either more or less water.
The type of seed that could be used in the classroom is radishes.
It is easy to grow, germinates relatively quickly and can be grown inside to control the weather conditions for the variables in the experiment.
If the school has an outdoor garden, the radishes can be planted outside in the spring or fall.
Peas are another recommended option.
Students may need help with designing the experiment. The teacher can assign specific hypotheses to students in order to help facilitate the investigation.
If materials are difficult to acquire, a non-lab resource could be Food and Farming.
This lesson details ways that climate change can affect farmers — both those who grow plants and those who take care of cattle. The provided video links to more information from Rutgers University. This lesson also has students think about how changes in temperature and precipitation affect crops and leads them in designing an experiment to test their ideas. This resource is recommended for teaching.
This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.
Teacher displays emotion vocabulary chart and conducts a poll to check in with students using the following questions:
How are you today?
How do you feel about the effects that climate change may have on the future?
Students watch the video Climate Change and Agriculture in the Garden State.
The section of the video that deals with temperature and precipitation runs from the beginning to about 4:55, so that would be a good spot to stop and talk about what the students just watched.
Students write down two things that surprised them from the video and one question they had on a topic discussed in the video.
Students brainstorm the following questions:
How do you think high heat will affect crops grown in New Jersey?
How do you think higher precipitation amounts will affect crops grown in New Jersey?
Teacher presents predictions of what will happen in New Jersey as a result of climate change. New Jersey is predicted to receive higher average annual temperatures as a result of climate change and will also experience more rainfall.
Teacher presents the following ways crops in New Jersey will be impacted:
Higher rainfall can cause the soil to become saturated, and roots cannot take up the nutrients that they need to grow.
Higher temperatures can raise the overall temperature of the soil.
Plants like to grow in a specific range of tolerance. If there is a change in the temperature of the soil, this can affect how plants will be able to grow because they will be outside the range of tolerance for that plant.
Students move into small groups of two or three students each and decide which variable they want to test in their experiment: heat or precipitation.
Students write a hypothesis that states the results for their experiment. This includes a claim, evidence, and reasoning. There are three possible options for the claim, including higher temperatures will cause less plants to germinate from seeds, higher temperatures will cause more plants to germinate from seeds, and higher temperatures will have no effect on the germination of seeds. The same options apply to higher annual rainfall, depending on the student setup.
Students set up their experiment to fill out the evidence part of their hypothesis.
Students compare normal weather patterns for their location in New Jersey using this website. Students find the annual temperature and average annual precipitation in their area.
Students set up their experiments. The two options for their experiments are temperature and precipitation.
Students place seeds in pea pods.
Students label one group their control group and one group their experimental group.
The control group should keep the temperature of their soil at the annual average temperature that New Jersey currently has for their area that their school is located in, using this website.
Students use a heat lamp to raise the temperature of their experimental group. A moveable structure could also be utilized if heat lamps can’t be acquired.
Students check their plants every two days and write down the data onto their student worksheet.
The likely result from this experiment is that the plants that are overwatered should not germinate or grow as tall as the control group of plants that are given a moderate amount of water.
The plants that are grown under warmer conditions with a heat lamp could grow quicker but the leaves of the plant could also look burnt.
Students write a conclusion of how climate change may affect that specific crop using the following parameters:
State the original hypothesis.
State the evidence collected during the experiment.
State the effect that changing the temperature or precipitation had on the seeds tested.
Make a claim of how this evidence can be used to model how climate change will impact New Jersey’s crop yields in the future.
The crops from the control groups can then be planted in an outdoor garden and then harvested for students to eat.