Capstone Project Stage 1
The goal of the Future Food Scenarios capstone project is for the students to investigate the food systems in a particular region in depth, and in particular to identify the current situation, determine the projected temperature increase and population growth, and propose strategies to make the regional food system more resilient. The capstone project is broken into five stages, each administered after the completion of three course modules.
Stage 1 of the capstone project is completed following Modules 1, 2 and 3, and requires that students begin to explore their capstone regions in the context of the material covered in the first three modules of the course. Students explore their regions in Google Maps/Earth and make observations about the physical and human environment of their region from the satellite images. Students also explore the history of the regional food system and discuss diet and nutrition in their capstone region. The goal is for students to begin collecting data and information that will be used in their final capstone project presentation.
The Future Food Scenarios capstone project is the summative assessment for the Future of Food course, and as such is designed to assess the Course-level Learning Goals.
- Describe and assess the soil, biological, and water resources and climatic conditions that support food production systems.
- Analyze how human food systems significantly alter Earth's ecosystems, specifically the biological, soil and water resources.
- Evaluate the resilience of food production systems in the context of future climate, human population growth, and socio-economic factors.
Context for Use
The semester-long Future Food Scenarios capstone project assignment is broken down into five stages that allow students to develop their assessment of the current status of a regional food system gradually as they progress through the course material. At the end of every third module, students complete an assignment (or stage) designed to help them gather and organize the information they will need to assess the future food scenarios. Each stage has an associated worksheet, which includes a table containing questions and suggestions for where to go gather information or data.
In a traditional in-person or hybrid course, the instructor may use from one to two class periods for each stage. The capstone project can be conducted as a small group or individual project.
The capstone project is used in lieu of a final exam for assessing students' achievement of the course-level goals. Throughout the semester, students gather information and data which ultimately is presented in a website, blog or in-class presentation. The format of the final product is dependent on the instructor. Suggestions for web-based platforms are provided.
Description and Teaching Materials
The semester-long capstone project requires that students assess the current status of the food systems in an assigned region, and consider the food systems in their assigned region for the future scenarios of human population growth and increased temperatures.
Students should select a region from a list of pre-approved regions, or can be assigned a region by the instructor. A list of suggested regions is provided: Capstone Project Regions (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 14kB Nov16 16). This document can be used to allow students to vote on their desired region. The regions included in the list have been selected based on the diversity of climate, topography, crops and agricultural setting, and on the expertise of the course developers. Instructors may choose to assign local regions.
A rubric is included for assessment of each capstone stage.
The final product created by students is a web page about their food region. You can choose which format is preferable given your experiences with different media. The worksheets provided for each stage can be used in any of these scenarios. Some possibilities include:
- WordPress.com has a free version. Each student has to create an account and a site. Or you could create a website and give students the ability to author different pages. The free version creates a site with the .wordpress.com domain name (WordPress.com).
- Edublogs.org is a great site for creating a class blog. With an inexpensive one-year subscription (<$40/year), you can take advantage of their full class management tools. Using these tools, the instructor can either create a blog page for each student, or let the students create their own when they set up their account (edublogs.org).
- Wikispaces.com – free for educators and has robust classroom management tools. You can create a class wiki, within which the instructor can create "Projects" or separate work spaces. You can assign a student to a project, giving them the ability to create their own wiki page (Wikispaces Classroom).
- Wikidot.com – not designed for education, but there is a free option. Each student could create their own page. The free option does have ads. (wikidot.com)
- Pbworks.com – their EDUHub platform has a free option with classroom management. For about $100 per year, you get more storage space. Within the class wiki page, you can create workspaces for each student. (pbworks EDUHub)
Capstone Stage One
The focus of stage one is to introduce the students to their capstone regions.
Teaching Notes and Tips
What works best?
- It's critical for students to work on their capstone project throughout the semester to avoid being overwhelmed at the end of the semester. Working in groups is a viable option for in-person and hybrid courses, while individual projects may be best for online courses. The worksheets provided for each stage can be used in any of these situations.
- For in-person and hybrid courses, instructors may elect to have students perform presentations of their projects at the end of the semester instead of developing a website. For online courses, the web-based assignment provides the opportunity for comments and online discussion through the semester. The worksheets provided for each stage can be used in any of these formats.
- Instructors may choose to have students begin developing their website or blog at the beginning of the course, or wait until the end when they can synthesize and migrate the data they've collected into an online format.
What students found difficult
- The international regions posed greater challenges to the students for data and information gathering and will likely require greater support from the instructor.
- Allowing students to select food regions that they are excited about helps to maintain interest in the project through the semester.