Back to school! Get FREE Elementary, Middle and High School Curriculum Now

August 30, 2011 | 9:08 pm

The Nutrients for Life Foundation offers free curriculum to any interested elementary, middle school or high school teacher. “Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century,” is a Smithsonian Institution-reviewed curriculum developed with, and tested by, science teachers like you.

The Nutrients for Life Foundation offers free curriculum to any interested elementary, middle school or high school teacher. “Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century,” is a Smithsonian Institution-approved curriculum developed with, and tested by, science teachers like you.

What curriculum is available?

The Nutrients for Life Foundation has two sets of curricula available: an elementary curriculum and a middle/high school curriculum. The curriculum, “Nourishing the Planet in the 21st century,” offers five (elementary) or six (middle/high school) lessons that teach your students about the essential nutrients plants need to grow, why it’s important to improve the health of soil and how to relate those nutrients to their own growth.

Nearly 96 percent of teachers who have used this curriculum say it was helpful in creating lesson plans. The lessons are as follows:

Elementary Lessons:

  • Plants Around You – Students are encouraged to explore the outside world around them and identify the different plants, the different parts of plants, and what they need to grow healthy.
  • Properties of Soil – Different soils have different characteristics and properties so students will investigate those differences through comparison activities.
  • Plant Soil Interactions – Students will learn about the root systems of plants as well as the transport of water and nutrients through the plant.
  • Plant Growth Affects the Soil – Plants get their nutrients from fertilizer in the soil, however when plants are harvested those nutrients are removed. Students will learn about this process and how farmers care for their land.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow – Students will have an opportunity to plan a garden and then learn about the importance of planning before planting.

Middle/High School Lessons:

  • In Search of Essential Nutrients – Students will learn how plants get the nutrients they need and which nutrients are needed at the micro and macro levels.
  • Properties of Soil – Different soils have different characteristics and properties so students will investigate those differences through comparison activities.
  • Plant-Soil Interactions – Students will learn about the root systems of plants as well as the transport of water and nutrients through the plant.
  •  Plant Nutrient Deficiencies – Students will assume the role of plant doctors to identify nutrient deficiencies and recommend solutions.
  • Fertilizers and the Environment/Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century – With the forecasted population growth, students will connect science to social issues and learn how farmers are learning to produce more food on less land to feed a hungry population.

Each of the lessons is accompanied with a hands-on learning activity, appropriate for the age-group and is easy to implement in any classroom. To learn more about the lessons included in our elementary and middle/high school curricula, click here for the full outline.

How does the curriculum meet science standards?

Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century supports teachers in their efforts to reform science education in the spirit of the National Academy of Science’s 1996 National Science Education Standards (NSES). The content is explicitly standards-based. A few of the specific standards that the curriculums meet are:

  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry
  • The characteristics of organisms
  • Life cycles of organisms
  • Organisms and their environment
  • Properties of earth materials
  • Types of resources
  • Changes in environments

(A full list of standards met is available in Table 003 in the curriculum.)

The suggested teaching strategies in all of the lessons support you as you work to meet the teaching standards outlined in the National Science Education Standards. This module helps science teachers plan an inquiry-based science program by providing short-term objectives for students. It also includes planning tools for teaching the module, such as conceptual flow of the lessons and suggested timelines. The focus on active, collaborative, and inquiry-based learning in the lessons helps support the development of student understanding and nurtures a community of science learners, in all grades.

The structure of the lessons enables you to guide and facilitate learning. All the activities encourage and support student inquiry, promote discourse among students, and challenge students to accept and share responsibility for their learning. The use of the BSCS (Biological Sciences Curriculum Study) 5E Instructional Model, combined with active, collaborative learning, allows you to respond effectively to students with diverse backgrounds and learning styles. The module is fully annotated, with suggestions for how you can encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry and foster curiosity, openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism.

FAQs:

How do I get a copy of the curriculum?

Our curriculum is available free of charge to anyone who requests it. Visit our curriculum page online to order a hard copy that will be delivered to you or you can download an electronic version instantly. Keep in mind that we also offer free copies of our new virtual classroom!

What do teachers who have used the curriculum in their classroom say?

Watch this video from Amy Andrews’ third grade class in Chicago. You’ll hear from her students about what they learned, and Ms. Andrews will share the importance of teaching plant and soil science in an era where many students don’t fully understand where their food comes from.