An Apple a Day Keeps the Climate Okay
Keywords: apple varieties; imported/local; organic/nonorganic farming; biodiversity; biotechnological use (fermentation, preservation, oxidation); how to store (glass, paper, plastic), food miles
Disciplines: biology, geography, home economics
Age level of the students: 4-17
Time frame: dependent on the activity
Partners: the local community, local apple growers, local farmers, local supermarket
You can also find an insight into the unit directly from the authors in this webinar (YouTube).
Our idea is to use the apple, a widespread fruit in Europe and the world, to focus on selected SDGs. We have created lessons, activities and projects that can be used by teachers of 4-year-olds to those studying advanced biology at 17 years old.
Ask the authors
The project starts with a video that illustrates how the SDGs are vital to looking after our planet for the future. In the project, you will find a range of activities that can be freely combined. Depending on the chosen activity (tree identification, aspects of biodiversity, production, storage or using apples) students will develop the skills for observation, description, planning a scientific investigation, analysing published data. The activities influence the students’ opinion and attitude to take an active role in environmental problems.
What the students and teachers do
The project includes various activities aimed at becoming familiar with apples; for example the apple tasting, fruit trees planted around school, or the life cycle of an apple tree, which might form a good starting point. Then, the view can be expanded to the production of apples in terms of traditional or organic farming compared to conventional agricultural plantation including the comparison of biodiversity, habitat conditions etc. Furthermore, the focus is laid on the availability of apples year-round, leading to a discussion of the concept of food miles. Additionally, students may develop optimal conditions to keep apples fresh in experiments. And finally, some options for using apples in terms of sustainability are presented.
Since the activities, lessons and projects are very diverse you will find more specific information by opening the subsections for the chosen activity. There you will find information regarding the project implementation, specific trained skills, good-to-know facts for teachers etc.
You can work with:
- the local community to plant an orchard with the school
- local apple growers to explain about the varieties they grow and why
- local farmers to explain why the can/ cannot grow organic apples
- local community citizens to explain about how apple trees are created
- local supermarket to explain why apples come from distant countries (food miles)
To inform other people about work and sustainable consumption and production, the school webpage, school newspaper, local newspaper, social network can be used.
Two of the authors have planted apple trees in the surroundings of their schools. Find information on their project here.
Introduction: If the world was an apple
This is the introduction that creates the hook for children and teachers to learn more about apples and their importance. It illustrates how the SDGs are vital, so that we look after our planet for the future.
A project for all students, no matter their age, which highlights the need to grow food sustainably and responsibly.
The teacher can watch the video and recreate it in the classroom, as this will have greater impact on the students. Or the class can simply watch the video together.
- 1 apple
- 1 cutting board
- 1 sharp knife
This has more impact if you use these instructions as a guide.
1. Show everyone an apple.
- If the world was an apple…
- How much do you think is land?
- How much is water?
2. Slice the apple into 4 equal quarters.
- ¾ represents all the oceans, lakes, rivers and water on the Earth.
- ¼ roughly represents all the land on earth.
3. Choose one ¼ to be the land.
- Carefully slice this into two this means you have 2 x ⅛.
- ⅛ represents the ice, deserts and mountains on earth.
- The other ⅛ is the land that is left.
4. Very carefully slice the land ⅛ into four pieces – each piece is now 1⁄32.
- 3 x 1⁄32 are too wet, cold, rocky, steep, have poor soil or are underneath houses and cities so cannot grow food.
- 1⁄32 is the only land that can grow food.
5. Now, peel the skin from the apple.
- The peel represents the surface of the earth that can grow food.
- Most suitable land has only 150 cm (5ft) of soil that can grow food. This will produce all the food in the world.
6. Scientists are working to try and make this land grow more food with less harmless effects on the world.
- They are trying to develop ways to grow more food in the same area to feed an ever-growing population.
Conclusion and outlook
Learning about the SDG goals during science lessons is very important in primary and secondary schools. Our activities are easily conducted in the classroom, and it doesn’t take a great deal of time for the teacher to prepare. Much of the work can be done by students and the prices for the materials are reasonable. Collaborating in groups, using experimental methods and ICT (H5P exercises) make our students also more motivated and engaged. We think it is worthwhile using apples to raise awareness for sustainability in terms of (future) consumers decisions. It is easily accessible in all countries, activities with them are authentic, we can use them in a real life and even at home in the kitchen.
To raise the awareness of the importance of sustainable development on more citizens we need to think how to involve the local community in the school activities.
Apple Tree Identification and Biodiversity
Age range: 4+, 7+
Students look at different trees in their local area during spring, summer or early autumn. They also get to know different apple varieties with accurate observation, description and tasting.
Production of Apples
Age range: 7+, 11+
Students learn about the life cycle of an apple tree, compare apple production and local vs. imported apples.
Age range: 4+
Students do a scientific investigation and find out how to prevent apples from browning and decaying.
Age range: 7+, 11+
Students learn to make apple vinegar and apple yeast.
Authors of An Apple a Day Keeps the Climate Okay: Sarah Eames (GB), Renata Flander (SI), Dagmar Isheim (DE)
Links to forward to your students
1. The hook video