National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Serious Cereal Science
6 - 8
One or two 45-minute sessions
Students will develop an appreciation for the extensive materials and career fields provided by agriculture, specifically as related to cereal grain production, processing, and consumption. Activities include playing a game in which students become agronomy specialists, mapping the top grain-producing states, and watching videos about careers related to grain production.
- Seed samples of rice, quinoa, corn, and wheat*
- Agronomy Specialist Fact Cards, 1 set per group*
- Grain Facts Information Board and Matching Cards, 1 set per group*
- Where My Cereal Grows Map, 1 laminated copy per group*
- Transparency markers (at least 4 different colors)
*These items are available in the Serious Cereal Science Kit which is available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com.
- Careers in Agriculture YouTube playlist
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Grain Facts Information Board and Matching Cards
- Agronomy Specialist Fact Cards
- Where My Cereal Grows Map
- Key to Grain Facts Information Board
annual: a plant that completes its life cycle in just one year or one season
cereal: a plant from the grass family that produces grain that can be eaten
combine: a machine that harvests and threshes grain
grain: the edible seed or seedlike fruit of grasses that are cereals (such as wheat, corn, and rice); also, plant that produces grain
pseudocereal: non-grasses that are used in the same way as cereals, such as quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat
refined grain: has some portion of the grain removed (generally the bran and germ) in order to improve qualities like texture, taste, or shelf life
whole grain: contains all three edible parts (the endosperm, bran, and germ) in the same proportions as the harvested grain seed before it is processed
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- 9.3% of full-time jobs in the United States are related to agriculture.1
- The United States is the world’s leading producer and exporter of corn, producing 36 percent of the world’s supply.2
- Wheat is by far the world’s largest and most widely cultivated food crop: one-seventh of all farmland around the world is used for growing it.3
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask students if they can tell you what the main ingredient in most breakfast cereals is. (grain, such as wheat, corn, rice, etc.)
- Ask students to brainstorm all the careers they can think of that are related to the production of breakfast cereals and list them on the board. If needed, use the following prompts to help students brainstorm:
- "Where are cereal grains produced?" (on a farm). "What kind of careers are found on farms?" (farmers, machine operators, truck drivers, mechanics, etc.)
- "What kind of careers are available to help farmers produce their crops?" (engineers design machines that make farming more efficient, scientists help develop more effective varieties of plants and seeds, accountants help farmers keep financial records to run more efficient businesses, etc.)
- "Once a farmer produces the grain, where does it go next?" (to a processing facility; for example, wheat is sent to a mill where it is ground into flour so it can be made into various cereals and other foods) "What kind of careers are found in processing facilities? (food scientist, nutritionist, mechanic, food transportation specialist, etc.)
- Once your students have finished brainstorming and are beginning to see the many careers involved in simply producing their breakfast cereal, tell them that in this lesson they will be exploring more careers like these.
- Divide your students into groups of four.
- Distribute to each group: one bag of each seed sample (corn, rice, quinoa, and wheat), one set of Agronomy Specialist Fact Cards, one set of Grain Facts Matching Cards, and one Grain Facts Information Board.
- Challenge students to identify the seed samples. Once they’ve identified the seeds, instruct students to distribute one Agronomy Specialist Fact Card to each member of the group.
- The fact cards will make each student an “agronomy specialist” in corn, rice, quinoa, or wheat. Each student should read his or her fact card carefully. Students may take notes or use transparency markers to highlight important information—after reading their cards, they should be able to act like specialists! Let students re-identify their seeds at this time if needed.
- Students should mix up or shuffle the Grain Facts Matching Cards and then place them upside down in a pile.
- Instruct students to take turns picking a card and trying to match the card to the appropriate place on the Grain Facts Information Board. If they do not know where to match the card, they should consult the group’s specialist in the relevant crop. The specialist may respond from memory, read his or her fact card, or reference notes to help determine a match.
- The activity is finished when the information board is complete. Teachers may wish to post the answer key at the end of the activity and allow students to self-check their answers.
- Provide each group with a laminated Where My Cereal Grows Map and transparency markers of four different colors. Using their knowledge as specialists, students should place a colored dot in each of the major grain producing states. (Instructions are on the map.)
- Access Utah Agriculture in the Classroom’s Careers in Agriculture YouTube playlist.
- Before showing the videos, cue students to listen for information related to cereal science careers, required education, and working environments. You may want to write these cues on the board as reference.
- Show the following videos to students: #1 Wheat Breeder, #20 Cereal Chemist, #34 Agronomist.
- Ask students to Think, Pair, Share with a classmate regarding the career information requested in Step 1. Via a class discussion, make a list of careers, education, and working environments on the whiteboard.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Grains, produced by plants in the grass family, are staple agricultural crops grown across the United States and around the world.
- There are a wide variety of careers available for those who specialize in areas related to grain production, such as plant breeding, chemistry, and agronomy.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
The game “Pit” (commercial card game) could be used to demonstrate how agricultural commodities such as grains are traded. This game works best when played with 4–6 players and can be obtained in department stores or online.
After the matching activity has been completed once, take away the Agronomy Specialist Fact Cards and see which group can correctly match the items in the fastest time.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Sprouting Success (Activity)
- Grains and Legumes of the World (Kit)
- Seed Samples (Kit)
- Serious Cereal Science Kit (Kit)
- Growing Today for Tomorrow (Multimedia)
- Science: What is Gluten? Here's How to see and Feel Gluten (Multimedia)
- Taking Care of Business (DVD) (Multimedia)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
- Identify science careers related to both producers and consumers of agricultural products (T4.6-8.g)
Education Content Standards
Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Cluster Skills
CS.05.02Examine and choose career opportunities that are matched to personal skills, talents, and career goals in an AFNR pathway of interest.
Career Ready Practices
CRP.10.1Identify career opportunities within a career cluster that match personal interests, talents, goals and preferences.
Economics Standard 6: Specialization
ObjectiveExplain how they can benefit themselves and others by developing special skills and strengths.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.