This project was designed to be an interdisciplinary project within a green academy, however, many of the lessons can be used independently. This CTE project uses sunflowers to teach students how to conduct research for their "client," take accurate measurements, micro-pipette nutrients, collect biomass data every ten days, and extrapolate potential seed production data vs biomass. This lab activity requires students to demonstrate the fundamentals of scientific method while mastering lab skills. The other subjects within the academy support the project by teaching concepts needed to analyze the data, or in the case of English to research and present the information. The lessons for each pathway take 4-8 days to complete, but the sunflowers will take approximately 90 days to finish growing, and students will need to regularly take measurements throughout that time period.
The culminating project combines the information that the students have collected, researched, and compiled from their math, science, English, and CTE lessons. The multiple page newsletter/brochure will include information about the World EcoTouch organization, an explanation of the research that has been conducted with the sunflowers project, the statistical analysis of the experiment, and summary of the findings, and possible applications of the research on real world issues, such as hunger, economy, and society. The newsletter/brochure will solicit help from community, country, and globally.
By the end of the project, students should have improved their lab skills, ability to research, collaborate, write in different genres, create multi-media presentations, analyze complex problems, both conceptually and mathematically, and use data to support their conclusions.
While there is overlap between what students will learn in each of the subject areas, each has its own particular educational goals. The ELA lessons introduce the students to a variety of writing genres,and calls for the students to collaborate on multimedia projects which include informational texts, poetry, and descriptive writing. In math, the students create scatter plots, describe them using correlation, strength, and direction, perform least-squares regression on that data, and use the regression equations to predict future values. The science course works on providing the students with the background information they will need to analyze data, while at the same time requiring students to analyze important environmental problems. Finally, the CTE course focuses on scientific method, combining laboratory technique, data analysis, with real world issues and solutions.
This project would help students prepare for the following careers:
Research analyst, journalist / writer, team leader, public speaker, environmental scientists, lab technician, statistician, ecologist, bio-technician, toxicologist, computer technician, biologist, farmer, hydrologist.
In addition to the CTE/STEM focus of the unit/project lessons, educators will find academic lessons in math, English/ Language Arts, and life and physical science, which supplement the primary core area of study.
This unit is brought to you by Josh Bradley (CTE), Lee Anne Aidt (math), Lisa Honeycutt (ELA) and Andrea Jenest (science) with support from the CTE Online curriculum leadership team and detailed coordination provided by the Course Team Lead Joshua Bradley.