- Students will compare the early development of corn with current
techniques of biotechnology and genetically engineered seeds.
- Students will identify plants natural to the Americas and those natural
to Europe that were part of the "Great Exchange" following
the Columbian explorations of the 1490s.
- Students will explore the primary source document "Narrative
of Black Hawk" to explore the place corn played in the annual cycle
of the Sauk and Mesquakie culture in the 1820s and 1830s.
- Students will know at least one Indian narrative that explains the
mythical origins of corn.
- Students will identify the characteristics of at least four types
of corn commonly grown today.
- IN THE BEGINNING: Start by having students read the material
related to the origins of corn. Discuss the fact that corn "is a human
invention, a plant that does not exist naturally in the wild. It can
only survive if sown and protected by humans."
Have students explore Field
of Genes to identify the pros and cons of genetically engineered
seed corn. Develop a chart listing the assets and liabilities of this
application of biotechnology.
Compare and contrast the Indian origins of corn. How is current biotechnology
alike and different from ancient steps taken to shape and develop the
characteristics of corn?
- THE GREAT EXCHANGE: Have students complete the online Great
Exchange activity. Encourage them to use online sources to explore
other items both bad and good that were exchanged between the "old"
and "new" worlds. These might include flowers, animals, diseases and
- CHIEF BLACK HAWK: Encourage students to read Introduction
to Black Hawk's Narrative and Black Hawk's Narrative.
Based upon this reading, have students use a large paper circle to develop
a chart identifying the place of corn in the annual cycle of the Sauk
and Mesquakie Indians.
- OTHER ORIGINS OF CORN IN INDIAN TRADITION: Have students read the
various Indian stories related
to the origin of corn. Place students in groups. To each group assign
a different story. Have students develop a skit retelling the story
of the origins of corn. When each group has performed a story, compare
and contrast the stories. How are they similar? How are they different?
- MANY KINDS OF CORN: Have students identify the various kinds of corn
by reading about many kinds of
corn. Bring into the classroom examples of each kind of corn. Flint
corn can be found at craft shops; dent corn and sweet corn can be obtained
from a local seed dealer or grain elevator; popcorn can be purchased
at a grocery store.
Using cardboard, have students develop a chart identifying the prominent
characteristics of each kind of corn. Provide a written description
below samples of kernels glued to the chart.