Seeds of Knowledge – bESTology Week 9

Published by rrfenton on

Seeds of Knowledge – bESTology Week 9 


Living organisms (plants and animals) require many elements to successfully grow. The “seeds” of life require proper growing conditions such as temperature, water, oxygen, etc. to jumpstart their growth cycle. As farmers begin to plant their crops, let’s plant the seeds of knowledge of GMO’s and bees.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. Some benefits of genetic engineering in agriculture are increased crop yields, reduced costs for food or drug production, reduced need for pesticides, enhanced nutrient composition and food quality, resistance to pests and disease, greater food security, and medical benefits to the world’s growing population. Advances have also been made in developing crops that mature faster and tolerate aluminum, boron, salt, drought, frost, and other environmental stressors, allowing plants to grow in conditions where they might not otherwise flourish.

In contrast there are concerns of health issues, environmental damage, violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights, and super weeds as well as the long-term impact.

Additionally, plants need pollination to flourish. Nearly one-third of the world’s crops are dependent on honeybees for pollination, but over the last decade the black-and-yellow insects have been dying at unprecedented rates both in the United States and abroad. A world without honeybees would also mean a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and SEEDS. 



Grainstorm how different your life would be if seeds did not exist. Explain the relationship between seeds and your clothing, food and shelter. Since seeds require pollination and pollination relies heavily on bees, also grainstorm ways to protect bees. Include the concerns of pesticides used in farming on the life cycle of the bee population, then discuss how the introduction of GMOs changes the equation for seeds and the life cycle.

Challenge: Use your engineering skills to build a Bee Hotel. Post your photo on the BEST Robotics Facebook page.

BEST Farm Journal

As stewards of our planet, how do we protect seeds for future generations? The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is one answer. The seed vault is located in an ideal place with no tectonic activity, 130 meters above sea level, and has permafrost. This vault is the world’s largest secure seed storage on earth. Explore the above resources and expand your knowledge of the importance of a seed vault and explain the relationship between the vault and GMOs.

BEST students not only build robots, BEST students are knowledgeable of current news and events. Research the pros and cons of GMO development. Choose one side of the discussion and write supportive arguments in your journal. Identify other team members who have chosen the opposite side and have a friendly debate. Conclude the discussion by listing three GMO facts that both sides can agree upon.

BEST Connection

Planting seeds by hand is not feasible on large farms; therefore engineers must design and develop innovative equipment to perform the task. View the resource videos above and then brainstorm how your team could build a BEST robot to perform the following task:

      *Plow a 6’ row with a depth of two inches, plant seeds (marbles) four inches apart, cover the seeds

Build prototypes, test and evaluate. Retain all prototypes to showcase in your team’s exhibit booth on Game Day.

Challenge: If your farm uses a center-pivot irrigation system, would you sow your seeds in straight rows or circles and why?

Community Connection

Invite a representative of your local Farm Bureau or Cooperative Extension Service to visit your school to discuss GMOs in your community and/or region. Refer back to your debate notes and organize a list of questions. Ask your guest if farmers in your region about labeling GMO products.

Continue GMO awareness by reading labels and packaging of food products in your home or at the local grocer. Since GMO labeling requirements vary by state and many foods are processed, discuss how accurate the packaging could be.

Be your BEST and stay up to date about bees, GMOs and seeds in your local news!

Fertilizer for the Brain

Go forth and multiply can definitely apply to seeds. Design a seed experiment by asking the following question: For every seed planted, how many seeds are harvested? 

Obtain some seeds of your choice and design an experiment utilizing the scientific method. Predict the number of seeds that will be harvested. At the conclusion of your experiment, were you able to multiply the number of seeds? Calculate the following based on your experimental outcome: How many seeds would you have to plant to generate a harvest of one million seeds?

Bloom’s Taxonomy: ask, brainstorm, build, calculate, choose, conclude, debate, design, discuss, evaluate, explain, explore, identify, include, invite, list, obtain, organize, post, predict, refer, research, retain, test, use, view, write

Workforce Skills: reading comprehension, active listening, critical thinking, speaking, active learning, writing, persuasion, mathematics, science, judgment and decision-making

Download a PDF copy of Seeds of Knowledge – bESTology Week 9 – Click HERE!

We hope you are enjoying bESTology.  Remember, there are hints for Bet The Farm – the 2016 BEST Game!

While the information contained in this website has been compiled from sources believed to be current and reliable, Friends of BEST in Alabama, Inc. (FBA) cannot be held responsible for any errors, omissions or content changes. Links made from this website are to reputable organizations at the time of posting. However, FBA cannot be held responsible for content on such linked websites. The existence of such links does not represent an endorsement by FBA of any views expressed or products or services offered.

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