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lesson plans

Sweetness: The Taste of Apples

apple

What is sweetness, and how do we define it? In this lesson, students measure and compare the sweetness of different kinds of apples and some common artificial sweeteners.  They also discuss the role that our desire for sweetness may have played in the apple's proliferation and popularity.
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Beauty: Patterns in Nature

tulip

People have long seen beauty in the geometric shapes and patterns found in tulips and other flowers. In this lesson, students will observe and categorize these shapes, and discuss how tulips, by appealing to our desire for beauty, have spread themselves around the world.
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Intoxication: In the Arms of Morpheus

cannabis

In this lesson, students will explore the history and use of mind-altering plants as well as the science behind them. They will learn about the molecular structures and physiological effects of several of the drugs derived from plants. The lesson provides an opportunity and a forum for students to consider the consequences of intoxication.
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Control: Far Afield

potato

This lesson prompts thought and discussion on controversial human efforts to alter plants, most recently by means of genetic engineering.  As we increasingly grow single crop varieties for food, are we jeopardizing the genetic diversity that's so critical to plant survival in the natural world?
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Viewers' Guide

apple

The Botany of Desire Viewers' Guide provides a synopsis of the film and offers discussion questions about each of its four chapters. The guide is intended to serve as a tool that a range of audiences can use to deepen their understanding of the program and the issues it explores.
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Random House Teacher's Guide

tulip

The Botany of Desire lends itself well to a wide diversity of subjects. While its content is most specifically about ecology and the natural sciences, Pollan's ability to argue an original, complicated idea in a convincing way makes it a perfect text for writing or journalism students. Philosophy students will find a springboard for examining the place of humans in the natural world.
Reproduced from BOTANY OF DESIRE by Michael Pollan.
© 2002 by Michael Pollan. Reprinted with permission of the Random House Publishing Group.

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