Teaching about Monocultures and Global Food Shortages using the feature film Interstellar.

Document created by Stacia Bennett on Feb 8, 2016
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I recently had to get a substitute teacher for three days straight, and I was at a really weird point in my curriculum with my Horticulture 1 students (transitioning from FFA/Leadership into more horticulture instruction) so I had no idea what to leave for my sub. I decided to leave the movie "Interstellar", which is a three hour long movie, so it can be shown in two full class blocks OR three full class periods OR you can do like I did and leave additional, curriculum related work for students do to for part of the block and the movie for an hour each day.

 

If you haven't seen the movie Interstellar, the plot follows an astronaut-turned-farmer who is living in a "future earth" where a blight has wiped out most crops. Corn is the one remaining viable crob and food is scarce; much of the world's population has died of starvation and oxygen levels on earth are depleting because of mass die-offs of plants. The movie starts with scenes reminiscent of the Dust Bowl era, and while the movie progresses into a plot of deep space exploration, it continually brings you back to the "farm" to see what's happening on the main character's homestead back on Earth. Some agricultural topics addressed in the movie are:

  1. Monocultures
  2. Single-crop diets
  3. GPS technology and self-driving tractors
  4. Solar powered electricity and technology
  5. Soil quality and erosion
  6. Drought
  7. World hunger
  8. Threats to global food security
  9. Several other science-related topics.

I created the attached worksheet to give to my students to complete while watching the film and turn in for a quiz grade at the end of the movie. I picked these questions because I felt the answers contained actual facts or content relevant to agriculture or science, because I wanted them to learn something from the movie. It is a GREAT movie, so students shouldn't mind watching it. I'm just sharing in case any of you need something to leave your class with a sub, or want to incorporate a feature film into your curriculum. The movie is available for free streaming with an Amazon Prime account. I'd recommend that upon returning, you have a discussion with students about what they saw and what they wrote, including the "real" science behind a lot of the scenes There are some good resources located here: Interstellar | Interstellar For Educators | Trailer & Official Movie Site | In Theaters Now.

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