Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE) Model Lesson - The Edible Festival

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These model lessons were created by teachers participating in the Minnesota Department of Education's 2011-13 project, "Integrating Environmental and Outdoor Education into Grades 7-12" with funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Title of lesson: The Edible Festival at the MN Landscape Arboretum

Content area: Science, History and Geography
Grade level: 7th grade

Learning objective:
Our goal was to provide an authentic learning activity that allows students to observe and experience, first-hand, the scientific process that goes into developing plants that can withstand Minnesota climate and soil.

Standard or benchmark addressed :
Science - Identify a variety of populations and communities in an ecosystem and describe the relationships among populations and communities in a stable ecosystem. - Compare and contrast the roles of organisms with the following relationships: predator/prey, parasite/host, and producer/consumer/decomposer. - Explain how the number of populations an ecosystem can support depends on the biotic resources available as well as abiotic factors such as the amount of light, water, temperature range, and soil composition. - Recognize that producers use the energy from sunlight to make sugars from carbon dioxide and water through a process called photosynthesis. This food can be used immediately, stored for later use, or used by other organisms. - Describe the roles and relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in changing energy from form to another in a food web within an ecosystem. - Describe examples where selective breeding has resulted in new varieties of cultivated plants and particular traits in domesticated animals. - Describe ways that human activities can change the populations and communities in an ecosystem.

Geography Grades 4-8
A. Concepts of Location
Standard 2. The student will identify and locate major physical and cultural features that played an important role in the history of Minnesota.
Benchmark 1
C. Physical Features and Processes
Standard 3. The student will identify and locate geographic features associated with the development of Minnesota.
Benchmark 1.
Standard 4. The student will identify physical characteristics of places and use this knowledge to define regions, their relationships among regions, and their patterns of change.
Benchmark 3.
D. Interconnections
Standard 1. The student will give examples that demonstrate how people are connected to each other and the environment.
Benchmark 2
Standard 5. The student will describe how humans influence the environment and in turn are influenced by it.
Benchmark 1.

Description of lesson and how it is adapted for EOE:
Incorporating lesson ideas from Food for Thought; Connecting Minnesota Geography, Agriculture and Communities curriculum, we began the unit by discussing the difference between weather and climate. Using a variety of resources, such as; maps, images, articles, and Google Earth, we gathered data creating layers of information. This allowed us, while on the fieldtrip, to compare and see what correlations and causal relationships exist among the patterns of data examined earlier. Students were required to keep a daily journal in class as we went through the lessons. They were then asked to bring these with when visiting the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Apple Farm experts so that their research could be documented. These journals were part of the Edible Festival packet that we created with the help of the Arboretum's Education team. This was the first time that we tried teaching cross-curricular lessons. The description given was our goal, we achieved most of what we had hoped to accomplish-time was our main problem because science is first semester and geography is second. From this experience, we know how to better prepare the students for the fieldtrip next year.

Other resources needed: The Arboretum provided most of the items needed. I brought a few items that would be linked to the history of the area-Chaska Brick.

How students are assessed:
After the field trip we met as a class to share and discuss individual findings. The students were asked to show their understanding by creating a Mind Map which teaches them how to structure information, helping them to better analyze, comprehend, synthesize, and communicate their experience.

Time considerations: This was a 3 hour field trip that could have easily been a full day. Prior to the field trip, Science and Geography spent 5 days/70 minutes per class, introducing and discussing the subjects so that the experience would enhance their understanding and give it relevance.

Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE) Model Lessons are freely available for use by all teachers for educational purposes only.

Michele A. Melius and Britta DeVinny , Clearwater Middle School, Waconia, MN
Topic Areas: 
Target Audience: 
Grades Pre K-12
Geographic Location: 
All Minnesota
Enhancements / Connections: 

Incorporate Native American tribes and their farming practices, getting more in depth with the creating of hybrid, Minnesota hardy seeds and plants, and including elements of climate change.

Library loan: 
Is training required?: