May 28, 2010 Agronomy

Kernels of Wisdom: Investigating Natural Variation in Corn

By CATHERINE HUTCHINGS AND HOLLY EPSTEIN OJALVO

Overview: Where did corn, or maize, originate, and how did its cultivation contribute to civilization? Why do botanists and agronomists continue to study and selectively breed corn today? How is variation important in this process? In this lesson, students use prior knowledge to tout corn in a 30-second commercial spot. Then, using observation skills, they investigate variations in different types of corn and develop an understanding of the role natural variation plays in its selective breeding. Finally, they apply their learning to explain how artificial selection works and to execute a concluding project.

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