National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Search Lesson Plans & Companion Resources
Source Search (Grades 9-12)
9 - 12
In this lesson students will learn that agriculture provides nearly all of the products we rely on in any given day by participating in a relay where they match an everyday item with its "source."
- Poster board (for mounting product pictures)
- Four boxes labeled "Store," "Factory," "Farm," and "Natural Resources"
- Source Search Pictures
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
non-exhaustible resources: natural resources that can last forever regardless of human activities. They renew themselves continuously. This does not mean that resources are not limited. Human misuse can damage these resources. Examples include surface water (little can be done to affect the total amount of water), air (we can damage the air with pollution, but we cannot use it up), and sunlight (pollution can limit this resource).
nonrenewable resources: limited natural resources that cannot be replaced or reproduced (within a generation). We cannot manage them for renewal. Once they are gone they are gone– forever. Examples: oil, mineral resources (lead, iron, cobalt, zinc, etc.), soil (made so slowly, 1,000-500,000 years).
renewable resources: natural resources that can be replaced by human efforts are considered renewable. These resources can be used up without proper management. Examples: forests, fish, wildlife, agriculture, plants, animals.
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Fiber is the word farmers and ranchers use to describe the raw product for fabric. The two most important farm-produced fibers are wool and cotton.
- More than 24 million American workers (17 percent of the total U.S. work force), process and sell the nation's food and fiber.
- About 18 percent of all U.S. agricultural products are exported yearly.
- Mason jars were invented in 1858, for home canning purposes.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Begin a discussion with your students to evaluate their prior knowledge of agriculture and its role in their life. Ask students questions such as:
- "What is the impact of agriculture in every-day life?"
- "Describe the impacts of sustainable agriculture on a global society."
- "Why is it important to consider our standard of living when examining aspects of sustainable agricultural and environmental systems?"
- Inform students that they will be participating in an activity to learn about the sources of many day-to-day items.
Cut out the attached pictures (40) of common products we see or use every day. Randomly divide the pictures into two groups. Use two colors of poster board (or card stock) and glue the pictures onto the poster board. Cut out the poster board around the pictures leaving a ¼ - ½ inch border. Laminate the pictures for future use. If you prefer to get your students involved in the preparation stage (and have time), gather a variety of magazines or slick ads from the Sunday newspaper. Instruct your students to cut out pictures that represent items they use regularly (food, cars, soap, clothes, computer, etc.; avoid duplication). Glue these pictures onto poster board and laminate them. Obtain four containers (boxes, plastic tubs or paper grocery bags) and label each with one of the following: “Store,” “Factory,” “Farms” and “Natural Resources.” Identify a location for a relay race outside, wide hallway, or gymnasium.
- Ask students what they did to get ready for school. Make a list of the common items used and foods eaten by the students. Discuss with students the types of items they use or eat every day.
- Divide the class into two teams. Divide the laminated pictures by color. If you have used red and blue poster board, you have a red and blue team. Be sure you have the same number of pictures in each pile. This lesson comes with 40 pictures to accommodate large classes but you may not need them all. If you have 26 students you will only use 26 pictures, 13 in each pile. Each student will take only one turn in the relay. If you have 25 students, you will still need 13 pictures in each pile; it is just that someone will be taking two turns. This will keep the relay fair.
- Tell the students where they are going for the “relay race” and that they will need to line up behind one another. Their task will be to sort the pile of pictures placed in front of each team into one of the four tubs. Be sure to have all the pictures face down. Locate the tubs 20-50 feet away from the first person in each line.
- Give students the following instructions: This is the source relay; your job is to place each picture in the tub that is the source for the items we use every day. When you are in the front of the line, pick up a card, look at the picture, then run to and place the picture in the correct tub based on the product’s “source”– either “Store,” “Factory,” “Natural Resources,” or “Farm.” You are looking at the product, not the packaging. The next person in line goes when the person in front of them returns, crossing over the start line or hand-tagging the person now in front of the line. The returning player should go to the end of the line.
- Continue the “relay race” until all of the pictures have been sorted. The first team done with the sort wins! Or do they?
- Now it is time to see if the pictures were sorted correctly. Ask the students to gather around you as you go through the pictures in each box. As you hold up each picture, the students can show whether they agree or disagree with the sort. Begin with the “Farm” container. If the item contains ingredients or raw products from a farm, the item is in the correct box. Examples would be any food items such as cereal, cookies, and milk, or any clothing item made out of a natural fiber such as cotton (jeans) or wool (coat). Some items from a farm that are not eaten or worn would be paint (this contains linseed or soybean oil), or fuel such as ethanol. The “Farm” container will typically have only a few items in it. Next, look at the “Natural Resources” tub; it will only have a few items in it as well. Items in this tub should be products we get from the ocean, from plants or animals that occur naturally without management from humans, or from mining. Examples of items that should be in this box are: fish or shrimp (wild; however, fish and shrimp are also farmed), cars, salt, water, plastic (starts as oil, which is mined) synthetic fabrics (polyester, petroleum or oil products), computers, cell phones, any metallic items. Wood products may be in this box, but many wood products are from timber grown on farms. Let the class decide how to divide these. You might decide to “split the difference;” put one (the fish) into the “Farm” box and the wood into the “Natural Resources.” Remind your students that this is the “source” search. What is the “real” source of the things we use every day? Nearly all are grown or mined – farmed or extracted from the natural world. With this concept in mind, you are ready to take a look at the “Factory” box. A factory is a place where raw ingredients are changed into the useful items we need or want; wood into furniture, ore into steel for cars, wheat into bread, and potatoes into chips. A factory assembles items for sale in a distribution center, a store. Everything in the “Factory” box should be sorted into either the “Farm” or “Natural Resources” container. After doing this, your students get it – products have been grown or mined. They realize that like the “Factory” container, nothing should be in the “Store” container; this is just where we purchase the items. Factories and stores rely on raw ingredients from the farm and natural world. Every picture or product is now in either the “Farm” or “Natural Resources” container.
- At this point you’ll want to remind students that farms need natural resources – soil, water, light, and air. The “Farm” container could actually be placed into the “Natural Resources” container!
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting this activity, use the following questions to review and summarize key concepts:
- Needs vs. Wants: Which of the products in the tubs do we need to survive? Which do we want for a variety of reasons?
- Considering all the things we use every day, how many careers do you think there might be in the area of farming or agriculture and natural resources? From production, processing (factory), to distribution what entry level and highly skilled jobs are there?
- Which items used in this activity are from renewable resources? What is a renewable resource? What is a recyclable resource? Which items are renewable/recyclable in the “Farms” container? Which are renewable/recyclable from the “Natural Resources” container? Were there any items that were non-exhaustible?
- How does the proper management of farms and natural resources affect our quality of life?
Do the relay a second time using only two containers, “Farm” and “Natural Resources.” This will help you to assess student understanding.
Ask students to research some ways to conserve or manage our natural resources, including farms, and share their findings with the class.
Ask your students to create a concept web with one of the pictures used in the “Source Search” activity. Each picture should be place in the center of a piece of large paper and the web drawn to identify associations or links to careers, natural resources or other products.
Suggested Companion Resources
- What Is Agriculture? (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- AgroWorld (Multimedia)
- Career Profile Video: Educator & Agronomist (Multimedia)
- Careers in Agriculture Videos (Multimedia)
- Growing Today for Tomorrow Video (Multimedia)
- How Chocolate Is Made (Multimedia)
- How Farming Planted Seeds for the Internet (Multimedia)
- How It's Made Documentary Series (Multimedia)
- How Stuff Works: Corn Plastic (Multimedia)
- NMSU Field Trip! Video Series (Multimedia)
- Revolutionizing the Way We Grow Food (Multimedia)
- Scenes of Science Video (Multimedia)
- Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Renewable Energy, and the Environment (Booklets & Readers)
- EarthPulse (Website)
- Pulp as Biodegradable Plastic in Disposable Food Containers (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Describe essential agricultural careers related to production, consumption, and regulation (T5.9-12.d)
Agriculture and the Environment
- Discuss the value of agricultural land (T1.9-12.d)
- Evaluate the various definitions of “sustainable agriculture,” considering population growth, carbon footprint, environmental systems, land and water resources, and economics (T1.9-12.f)
Education Content Standards
Economics Standard 1: Scarcity
ObjectiveIdentify what they gain and what they give up when they make choices.
Economics Standard 2: Decision Making
ObjectiveMake effective decisions as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens.
9-12 Geography Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment.
Objective 1Human modifications of the physical environment can have significant global impacts.
Objective 3People can either mitigate and/or adapt to the consequences of human modifications of the physical environment.
9-12 Geography Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.
Objective 1The meaning and use of resources change over time.
NCSS 2: Time, Continuity, and Change
Objective 6Different interpretations of the influences of social, geographic, economic, and cultural factors on the history of local areas, states, nations, and the world.
NCSS 3: People, Places, and Environments
Objective 4The causes and impact of resource management, as reflected in land use, settlement patterns, and ecosystem changes.
NCSS 9: Global Connections
Objective 2The solutions to global issues may involve individual decisions and actions, but also require national and international approaches (e.g., agreements, negotiations, policies, or laws).
Objective 4The actions of people, communities, and nations have both short-and long-term effects on the biosphere and its ability to sustain life.
Objective 6Technological advances can both improve and detract from the quality of life.
Common Core Connections
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Language: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.