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New York Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Lesson Plans (16)

Algaculture and Biofuel

Students will use the scientific method to learn about the growth properties of algae and how algae production may be a possible solution to address the global energy crisis. Students will utilize the engineering design process to apply their knowledge about algae growth to create a bioreactor for algae production and discover if biofuel can be made from algae. Grades 9-12

Apples and the Science of Genetic Selection

Students will distinguish between natural and artificial selection and use a student-centered learning activity to see how science and genetics have been used to artificially select apples for specific traits like color, texture, taste, and crispness. Grades 9-12

Coliform Counts

This is an advanced level or honors lab. During this investigation, students will perform a coliform analysis of raw hamburger meat. They will collect, organize, and interpret data while practicing safe lab techniques. In the end, they will apply the results of a coliform analysis to food safety. Grades 9-12

Design 'Y'er Genes

This lesson introduces students to the relationships between chromosomes, genes, and DNA molecules. Using the example of a strawberry, it also provides activities that clearly show how changes in the DNA of an organism, either naturally or artificially, can cause changes. Grades 9-12

Double the Muscle: Probabilities and Pedigrees

This lesson allows students to apply the concept of Mendelian genetics and learn about the double muscling trait found in cattle. Students will apply their knowledge of genetics and Punnett squares to calculate the probability of genotypes and use a pedigree chart. Grades 9-12

Evaluating Perspectives About GMOs

While many view bioengineered crops (GMOs) as a promising innovation, there is controversy about their use. This lesson provides students with a brief overview of the technology, equipping them with the ability to evaluate the social, environmental, and economic arguments for and against bioengineered crops (GMOs). This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12


Students will view the film Farmland, a documentary spotlighting six farmers and ranchers in the United States. The film portrays the business and lifestyle of a variety of farmers and ranchers. Perspectives on topics such as bioengineered (GMO) crops, animal welfare, organic and conventional farming practices, farm size, farming stereotypes, and more are presented. Grades 9-12

Food Evolution

Students will view the documentary Food Evolution to evaluate the polarized debate surrounding bioengineering (GMOs). In this film director, Scott Hamilton Kennedy travels from Hawaiian papaya groves to Ugandan banana farms, to cornfields in Iowa to document how agricultural technology can be used in such varied crop settings. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12

From Techniques to Traits

This lesson explores common biotechnology methods and their applications in agricultural sciences. Students will examine DNA analysis techniques, become familiar with the process of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and evaluate methods of DNA analysis as they learn how the biological techniques can be used in the process of developing specific traits within a crop. Grades 9-12

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Organic Foods

Students will determine the presence of DNA in their food by extracting it from a strawberry. Then, students will compare and contrast GMOs and organic foods in order to evaluate the nutrition, safety, economic, geographic, and environmental impacts of these agricultural production practices. Grades 9-12

Methods of Crop Modification

Explore six scientific processes that can be used in plant breeding to modify the genotype of a plant in the pursuit of desired characteristics.

Plasmid Problem Solving

This lesson compares and contrasts prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and examines the form and function of the plasmid found in prokaryotic cells. Students will then use these principles to simulate how a desirable gene can be isolated and inserted into a plasmid as one step in the process of creating a bioengineered (GMO) plant variety. Grades 9-12

Silky Genes

Students will simulate the process of gene splicing, understand the application of transgenic organisms in agriculture, and see how goats can be used for the production of goods other than meat and milk through the use of biotechnology. Grades 9-12

Strawberry Breeding and Genetics

Students learn about DNA by extracting it from strawberries. Students also analyze the similarities and differences of their extraction process to those on Genetic Engineering: The Journey of a Gene. Students learn how genetic testing (including DNA extraction) is useful in breeding new varieties of strawberries. Grades 9-12

The Science of GMOs

Students will map the scientific process of creating a bioengineered (GMO) plant, compare bioengineered soybean seeds to conventional soybean seeds, describe the impact weeds have on plant growth, and understand how a bioengineered seed can help farmers manage weeds. Grades 9-12

Understanding Bacteria (Grades 9-12)

This lesson introduces students to food safety, the 4 Cs of Food Safety, the Farm-to-Table Continuum, who’s responsible for keeping our food safe, and the link between food safety and other content areas. Students will also be challenged to hypothesize about where most bacteria are found and develop awareness that bacteria are everywhere and that various surfaces might have different levels of organisms. Grades 9-12

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