Power to the Peanut

Power to the Peanut lesson plan

What can you make with peanuts? Much more than PB&J! Discover George Washington Carver's botanical contributions to science and everyday life.

  • 1.

    Why are hundreds of schools across the United States named after a botanist (a person who studies plants)? George Washington Carver studied art in college but he is famous for his work as a botanist. Carver used his knowledge of plants to help change the crops grown in the southern United States. He encouraged the idea of crop rotation. He promoted the ideas of growing plants that enriched rather than depleted the soil, such as soybeans and peanuts. During Carver's lifetime, he created more than 300 products made from peanuts and more than 118 from sweet potatoes.

  • 2.

    Although many companies wanted to hire Carver to work for them, he felt it was important for him to teach college students. His work elevated the study of farming to a scientific level. He worked for more than 50 years at the Tuskegee Institute, a school dedicated to African American education. Invite students to research the life and work of George Washington Carver to learn more about his contributions to science and everyday life. Organize a variety of text and electronic resources for students to view during this activity.

  • 3.

    On white paper, students use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to draw a picture of Dr. Carver. Encourage them to highlight what they have learned about this significant American scientist. Make drawings of some of his peanut and sweet potato products, or other images to demonstrate knowledge about his work.

  • 4.

    Students cut out small drawings and attach them to the poster with Crayola School Glue to make a 3-D display.

  • 5.

    Students present their posters to small groups of peers.

Standards

  • LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • MATH: Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories.
  • SCI: Obtain information to explain how breeders use variations in traits to produce desired types of domesticated organisms.
  • SS: Identify and use various source for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.
  • SS: Identify and describe examples in which science and technology have changed the lives of people, such as in homemaking, childcare, work, transpiration, and communication.
  • SS: Explore factors that contribute to one's personal identity such as interests, capabilities, and perceptions.
  • SS: Give examples of an explain groups and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.
  • VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

Adaptations

  • Possible classroom resources include: George Washington Carver by Lynea Bowdish; George Washington Carver: The Peanut Wizard by Laura Driscoll; George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist by Geoff Benge & Janet Benge
  • Students celebrate Peanut Butter Lover's Month in November. Students make a graph depicting the number of students in the class or school who love, do not care for, or are allergic to peanut butter. Colorize graphs using Crayola Colored Pencils. Display graphs in the classroom.
  • Students count and record the names of products that contain peanuts or peanut derivatives found in their homes. Have students work in small groups to discuss the items that carry peanuts in them.
  • Students investigate the live and career of George Washington Carver. He was born into slavery in 1864 in Diamond Grove, Missouri. Where did he attend school? Why did he change from the study of art to botany? At what other state university did Carver do his research?