Catch Up on Tomato Technology

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Informative Text
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.


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3 Resource Link is Wrong

They've since updated their website. Here's the link to the full unit (this lesson is in there somewhere).


This lesson is a tool to demonstrate how various technological advances have changed the tomato and the tomato industry over the years. The technology includes both selective breeding and genetic engineering.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Middle School
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 7
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-LS4-5 Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on synthesizing information from reliable sources about the influence of humans on genetic outcomes in artificial selection (such as genetic modification, animal husbandry, gene therapy); and, on the impacts these technologies have on society as well as the technologies leading to these scientific discoveries.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This is part of a larger unit called:"Where'd You Get Those Genes?" from the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. This lesson provides information on how selective breeding, genetic engineering, and better farming practices have improved the tomato industry. Since the information is provided for by a Agriculture Foundation, the educator should also include additional research possibilities to bring in other sources of information.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students are given a variety of possible ways to share the information found in the texts provided. A suggestion would be to add additional reference material that is from another site. This could add an additional layer for the learner to check for any possible bias depending on the source of the text. this url is a PBS interactive that compares selective breeding with transgenic methods for a variety of crops, another site that gives pros and cons with genetically modified tomatoes. Educator can use these sites as well as allowing the learner to do research themselves. The extension section gives many ideas to include all areas of this practice.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Shows impact of humans on tomato production, including selective breeding, genetic engineering, and farming practices.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The lesson does not involve using probability in the main part of the lesson. The extension section does include ways to include a quantitative activity. It would be a good review of genetic probability to have students do Punnett Squares to show the result of a tomato cross-matches..

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Elements of the disciplinary core are significantly addressed. Use of the lesson provides an opportunity to use reference material that combines information of selective breeding and genetic engineering with their impact on society. Grade‐appropriate elements of the science and engineering practice(s), disciplinary core idea(s), and crosscutting concept(s), work together to support students in three‐dimensional learning.

  • Instructional Supports: Educator needs to have a background on both selective breeding and genetic engineering to better lead a discussion. Also, scaffolding for ELL and low readers will be necessary to have students comprehend the "fact sheets". Scaffolding could be accomplished with "What I Know" summative assessments, "graphic organizers", sentence starters and sentence frames are strategies that can be used to guide their writing.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Formative assessments of three‐ dimensional learning are embedded throughout the instruction.The lesson provides a method for monitoring student progress. Student monitoring is both oral, through discussion and written through individually and group presentations. The teacher can check for understanding and student progress at many places during the lesson. The follow up discussion will further develop the cause and effect relationships. Their are many extensions available that can become a summative assessment.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: A source of technology could be accomplished by increasing research on computers or tablets. Or they can create the project using iMovie, PPT, and other presentation forms.