Students and most Americans now take food for granted because of the abundant supply and low cost. The extensive agricultural research programs of the state universities, the Agricultural Research Service, and private companies have developed higher yielding cultivars, and have determined cultural practices to provide optimum growing conditions for these cultivars. Farmers have then used the products of this research to dramatically increase production.
Declining enrollment in the various scientific disciplines has caused some concern that not enough qualified agricultural scientists and engineers will be available to meet future needs for continuing the high level and quality of our food production system.
These experiments are designed to give students an introduction to agricultural research to increase their appreciation of the importance of these endeavors and the impact it has had on their daily lives. Perhaps some students will be stimulated to seek a career in an aspect of agricultural research.
We appreciate the efforts of the authors and James J. Vorst in preparing and assembling this series of crop science experiments.
Steve A. Eberhart, president
Crop Science Society of America
The purpose of this publication is to provide a series of crop science experiments for use in junior high or high school biology or science classes. The experiments are intended to help teachers relate basic plant biology to the world outside the classroom via demonstrations and laboratory experiments. Not only do demonstrations and student-conducted experiments show how nature works, but because students are involved in the learning process, they learn and retain more, and frequently are motivated to delve more deeply into those topics they find especially interesting. The overall objective of this series is to provide teachers with experiments they may use to demonstrate that learning basic plant biology is important, exciting, and relevant to a world population that is placing more demands on safe and efficient food and fiber production systems.
This series of experiments demonstrates applications of basic plant biology to field crop growth, development, and production. These experiments were developed through the joint efforts of the Crop Science Teaching Improvement Committee of the Crop Science Society of America, and a specially appointed committee of the American Society of Agronomy. Junior high and high school teachers were consulted during the development of this publication to assure their utility in relating basic biology to the fascinating aspects of crop science. These experiments only serve as examples of the many unique and interesting ways that crop science directly affects crop production, which indirectly affects the daily lives of each of us.
Each experiment is independent of the others, and a teacher may select only those that are relevant to his or her lesson plan. A Teacher's Guide and a Student's Guide are included for each experiment, and questions that aid in assessing student understanding are included. Every effort has been made to keep the cost of materials to a minimum, and vendors of specialized supplies are listed.
The project chair would like to thank the two Societies for their support of this project. Also, a sincere note of appreciation is extended to the authors, who devoted their time and effort in preparing and testing the experiments.
James J. Vorst
West Lafayette, Indiana