Into the Marsh

Chill Out!

Students manage a marsh through a season of spring frost threats.

Lesson Overview

How do growers decide whether there is a risk of crop damage from a spring frost — and what do they do about it?

In this lesson, students encounter an important seasonal challenge to growers: spring frost. Their task is to use information provided to decide whether a risk of frost exists and, if so, take appropriate action, sprinkling the marsh with water to prevent frost damage to the flower buds.

The lesson begins with an overview of information about the healthy development of a harvest, as well as the risk of damage due to spring frosts. The overview also includes the often surprising fact that spraying plants with water is a helpful defense against damage that could be brought on by spring frost.

After this overview, students manage this potential threat. They determine whether a given night’s forecast represents a threat to the developing bud (the bud grows less tolerant of cold as it develops), and, if so, at what temperature they should set equipment to respond to the threat. They must take into account the fact that although it might seem easier to water defensively on every evening, overwatering also presents unique threats to the health of the vine and crop.

After encountering each of three situations, students receive feedback on their choices. After the final situation, students reflect on how well, overall, they have managed the frost threat.

This lesson makes use of a classroom discussion forum, a Growers’ Association meeting. This parallels the real-world support that growers have in the form of agricultural organizations, and also provides an opportunity for problem-centered discussion across teams of students. The Growers’ Association meeting is used throughout the Challenges Await You section.

Expect this lesson to take two sessions of class time. It may be especially challenging for younger students. Therefore, the lesson offers two different challenge levels, as indicated in the resources (see Materials). The simplified and advanced versions (for younger or older students, respectively) differ in the amount of information that students must weigh to make a decision.