Teacher Center

2006 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award

Ms. Nancy Jo Miller, Nebraska

In order to reinforce the agricultural values of our community, I utilize a variety of educational resources to enhance my students’ understanding of scientific concepts and further their understanding of agriculture and its importance to mankind. I use the Food and Drug Administration “Science and Our Food Supply” curricular materials, which contains five modules that all touch upon agriculture. During this unit, my students completed an activity called “the twelve most unwanted bacteria.” They researched one bacteria, made a poster to share their findings, and presented this information to the class.

To build on this lesson, we did a lab called “bacteria everywhere,” in which the students swabbed different areas of the school and transferred the swab samples to chocolate agar plates (growth medium for bacteria). To fight the bacteria, the seventh graders discussed hand washing and each group designed an experiment to test for the best method of hand washing. I also utilize the “Rats are Teaching Science” program sponsored by the Omaha Dairy Council. We obtained two young white lab rats and studied them for six weeks. In this experiment the control rat was fed a diet containing food from all five of the food groups. The test rat was fed a diet containing the food groups, minus the dairy group. This rat was given sugar water to drink, rather than milk. To determine the effects of these two diets on growth, the students weighed the rats and measured their tails once a week.

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