Challenges in feeding the world

“I want the students to see that even though we do not have a huge issue in our neighborhood, we do have an issue worldwide,” teacher Jay Swiecki at New Miami High School. To help them learn, he used lessons from the Feeding the World unit—Demographic transition, Population age and structures, and Farming for the future.

Swiecki created two slide presentations using real-time data with world populations to show the current trends in various countries. “We discussed what population diagrams looked like and what information you can gain from them. We also decided that we could take a map without a title and determine what type of country was represented, whether or not the population was growing, whether or not there was proper health care or enough food to feed the populations. We also looked at a current population clock online to see real time numbers increasing (or decreasing in some countries) as we looked at them. We then worked through Demographic transition and Population age and structures in class over the next two days,” Swiecki said.

“We ended the week with the Farming for the Future activity. We compiled our data from the lab and recorded it on my Clevershare board so that we could analyze it as a whole. We then came up with some general conclusions—wet years are better than dry years, the more plant variety the better, you need to know your environment to know what to plant, etc. Next, we compared practices in the U.S. and third world countries to see if there were any differences or similarities.

“We concluded that we have more control over certain factors in the U.S., but can be subject to some of the same variables as other countries. We then started to discuss what was not considered in the lab, things like crop rotations, amount/type of fertilizer, amount of time needed, etc, and how that could have an impact on our results.

“Overall, I feel this was a successful lesson. It opened students’ eyes up to what is happening in other parts of the world. Based on their reflection answers, students have a better understanding of the importance of population growth and how farming plays an important role in the health and survival of future generations. Ideally in the spring we can set up a field trip to a farm to witness first hand some of the things we discussed in class,” Swiecki said.

This unit helps students understand the need for new technologies, new techniques and new environmental practices be developed to increase food production to meet a growing demand. It’s a great way to introduce the many careers connected to agriculture!