Pesticides & Fertilizers


Author:

David Macmorine

Unit Title:

Pesticides & Fertilizers

Grade:

11-12

Subject:

Mathematics/Biology

Estimated Duration:

2 Weeks

Unit Acitvities:

Background Knowledge:

The essence of this lesson is rooted in mathematics. Although the topics pertain to pesticides and fertilizers, the accurate use of land surveying based in trigonometry and geometry is essential for accurate and efficient application of pesticides. 

Date:

July 2013

Author:


Unit Title:


Grade:


Subject:


Estimated Duration:


Unit Activities:


Background Knowledge: 


Date:


 The Big Idea (including global relevance)

The use of fertilizers and pesticides is a persistent problem in our food chain. Overuse of pesticides and fertilizers causes runoff into the water table, contaminating sources far beyond where they are applied.

The Essential Question
How can we more effectively apply pesticides and fertilizers?
Justification for Selection of Content

The use of pesticides and fertilizers is a pressing issue around the world.  It is somewhat of a double edged sword. On one hand, pesticides and fertilizers lead to higher crop yields, increasing the food supply. On the other hand, the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers has been linked to many health problems. 

http://earthjustice.org/our_work/campaigns/pesticides-in-the-air-kids-at-risk

http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/can-bug-bombs-make-a-house-explode.htm

http://pesticidestewardship.org/calibration/Pages/DoingtheMath.aspx

http://www.ppp.purdue.edu/Pubs/ppp39.html

http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_a/A612.pdf

The Challenge

Students will design their school letters in flowers in a park setting ensuring proper proportion and fertilizing of the plots. 

The Hook

How much pesticide is exactly necessary to kill a pest?

Teacher's Guiding Questions
What is a pesticide? What is a fungicide? What is a fertilizer? What are they used for? Where are they used? Are they dangerous? Are there health risks?  What are they? Are there some studies which are conclusive? Controversial?Why do we need new types of pesticides? Don’t the old ones work? When you have a huge farm, how do you know you have applied they correct amount of pesticide? Fertilizer? Is it possible to use too much? Is it possible to use too little? What do both fertilizers and pesticides have in common?
ACS (Real world applications; career connections; societal impact)

The ‘real world’ relevance is far reaching.  We use pesticides at home for ants, roaches, bed bugs, etc. No one really likes to talk about it – many people view it from a standpoint of shame – a reflection of personal cleanliness. Many times, it is not a person’s fault they are confronted with household pests – it is just ‘dumb luck’. The STEM careers applicable are broad.

Science wise, STEM careers involving pesticides range from a technician working for a pest control company having to service residential and commercial customers, all the way to a researcher in a lab attempting to develop new and safer types of pesticides. Lastly, the societal issues are always pertinent. In an urban setting, pests are always there and, unfortunately, may be evolving into generations which are resistant to modern pesticides. New types of pesticides may need to be developed, but hopefully not at the expense of the environment.  

Engineering Design Process

Students will first identify and define what pesticides are. Then they will gather data how they are applied in both a residential, commercial, and agricultural setting. Students will then identify alternatives to pesticides. Students will then identify the best way to safely and effectively apply pesticides to a large area is to accurately survey the land in question, using land surveying techniques, and working in several groups, students will calculate the land area. Students will then ensure the amount of pesticide is sufficient to achieve the pest eradication without overuse. Students will then calculate the proper concentration of pesticide to use. Comparing the land surveying data from the groups, students will test the accuracy of their groups measurements. Differing results of measurements from the various groups may cause them to refine their results and have to go and check. Students will then design their school letters on the plots of land to be fertilized and planted with donated flowers. Students will then be given budgetary constraints, and redesign their letters to meet the budgetary constraints. 

Unit Academic Standards

HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of human activities can include urbanization, building dams, and dissemination of invasive species.]

Modeling with Geometry G-MG

Apply geometric concepts in modeling situations

1. Use geometric shapes, their measures, and their properties to describe objects (e.g., modeling a tree trunk or a human torso as a cylinder).

Where the CBL and EDP appear in the Unit: 

Misconception

Students often have difficult time calculating the area of irregular shapes.

Results: Evidence of Growth in Student Learning

After teaching the Unit, present the evidence below that growth in learning was measured through one of the instruments identified above.  Show results of assessment data that prove growth in learning occurred.

Average

Average

Pre-test

Post-test

53.44%

74.82%

Reflection

In summary, the lesson worked very well. Students were able to get up and leave the math classroom and see how math is really used. The students enjoyed and learned from the project, as was demonstrated by my pre and post- test comparison. I would like to streamline the lesson to make it doable within two school weeks, but I am not sure how to do that. The students were very familiar with formulas for ratio, proportion, and area. However, they had never really applied them to a real life situation on a large scale. It worked well to apply relatively simple math to a real world situation. One of my students said, “It just made sense.”