InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Future of Food > Section 2: Environmental Dynamics and Drivers > Capstone Project Stage 2
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Capstone Project Stage 2

Gigi Richard, Colorado Mesa University
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Summary

Stage 2 of the capstone project requires that students demonstrate progress toward completion of their regional Future Food Scenarios capstone project. Stage 2 is completed following Modules 4, 5, and 6, where students are introduced to the relationships between climate, water and soils resources, and crops. In Stage 2, students explore the climate, water and soil resources, and crops grown in their assigned capstone region. Students submit their data collection worksheet and PowerPoint for review by the instructor to ensure that they are on topic and are working effectively to apply key concepts to their selected regional food setting.

Learning Goals

As outlined in the capstone overview (Stage 1), Capstone Stage 2 provides a benchmark to assess students' progress on their semester-long Future Food Scenarios capstone project. The Stage 2 benchmark helps determine if students have started their capstone research (not waiting until term end) and are already applying concepts learned from the course modules to their assigned food region. Instructors will need to assess if the student is making progress for successful completion of the capstone at the end of the term.

Upon completing Stage 2, students should be able to document the physical and human environment of their assigned food region and explain in very general terms, the climate, precipitation regime, soil resources and major crops grown in their assigned food region.

Context for Use

See Capstone Stage 1 for details.

Description and Teaching Materials

See Capstone Stage 1 for details. Student materials for Capstone Stage 2 are also available, including a student worksheet.

Teaching Notes and Tips

What works best
  • Capstone Stage 2 could take one or two class periods, or be completed as an assignment outside of class. The worksheet should be assigned following Module 6.
What student may struggle with
  • It's important to encourage students to stay on top of documenting the sources for all of the material they collect, whether it's text, data, images, or maps. There is a column in each of the worksheets that includes reminders to keep track of information sources.
  • Space is included on the worksheets for students to record questions that they are having trouble with. It's important to work with students to help them get answers now to avoid crises at the end of the semester. Also, answers to all of the questions in the worksheets may not be available for all regions, so it's important help students determine which items they can eliminate from their assessments. This will be particularly important for international regions where data may more difficult to find.
  • Instructors are encourage to tailor the capstone stage worksheets to an appropriate level for their students. The worksheets as provided may be too in depth for some introductory courses.
Additional optional materials for soils in capstone stage 2:

An excellent resource that divides the U.S. into major land use areas and gives a summary of topography, soils, water, and production conditions in general is the NRCS Major Land Resource Regions and Resource Areas of the United States, Caribbean, and Pacific Basin: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_050898.pdf

For a more detailed look focused on a particular county, go to the NRCS Online Soil Surveys here and select your state and county-level region: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/soilsurvey/soils/survey/state/

For many counties in most states, a soil survey for the entire state is archived online as a pdf. You may have to select not the "current" version but the second most recent, to access a pdf publication that contains a useful overview of soil resources in the county. This can be a complete and easy-to-access resource at a very local level, since the soil survey books include topographic maps and detailed soil series and land use descriptions.

If you select the "current" survey from the NRCS soil survey site above, you can also use the online Web Soil Survey, which may only be useful if you are already familiar with soil classification and soil series. Select your state and county and use the Interactive Map tools to select your area of interest and request soil survey information. The interactive map however can be slow to load, and can be extremely detailed in a way that is not interesting for a beginning user, and requires an area of interest smaller than most counties (less than 100,000 acres). If you do use this you may just want to explore the percentage breakdown of soil series and their general characteristics, e.g. whether they are acid or neutral, well drained or not, etc.

Assessment

No assessments have been formally planned for this stage of the capstone. Assessment of progress on the capstone project is conducted at Stages 1 and 3. Unless the instructor prefers, there are no graded submissions at this point in the course. However, simple status updates in class time or through a discussion board generally suffice. The instructor should especially pay attention to students who struggled with Stage 2 to see if they are still having difficulties. The instructor might also ask students to bring their Stage 3 worksheets to class for a quick check to see how up-to-date they are, or may choose to collect the worksheets and PowerPoints to encourage student to make continued progress on the capstone. At the least, checking the worksheets and PowerPoint briefly during class time will encourage students to continue to work on them.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »