Years 5 and 6
Place stalks of wheat, a bowl of grain, a bag of flour and loaf of bread on a table in front of students. Ask students what they see. What do they notice about each object? Can they identify each one? Can they explain where each object comes from? What else can students share?
Some students may be reluctant to contribute to a class discussion if they don’t feel they have the correct answer. By opening discussions with a question that requires no prior knowledge – for example ‘What do you notice about these objects?’ – all students are invited to engage in the conversation.
Explain to students that wheat is a plant grown from a seed and there are many different varieties grown throughout Australia. Australia produces about 25 million tonnes of wheat per year (AEGIC 2022), with Western Australia and New South Wales producing the most.
Around 75% of the wheat grown in Australia is exported to over 50 countries. The remaining 25% is used by Australians to make flour, breads, noodles, biscuits, cakes and pasta. It can also be used to feed livestock (farm animals). See the Resources section for more information about Australian wheat.
As a class, watch the Farm to Market: Wheat video. Following this, have students work in small groups to investigate different aspects of the farm to table process listed below. Each group will have key questions to answer for their focus area. Resources for each topic are provided in the Resources section below.
It’s helpful to draw students’ attention to stereotypes in STEM careers. Ask students to draw a farmer and then, as a class, compare their drawings to this snapshot of the Australian agricultural workforce. Explore whether the students’ drawings matched the diversity of the workforce, and why they may have held certain ideas.Explore the snapshot
As a class, reflect on the technologies used in the processing of wheat from the farm to our tables.
Create a shared document that lists the technologies involved, provides an image or diagram of each, and explains the purpose of each.
Ask students to work in small groups to make a working model of a key piece of agricultural machinery (suggestions below). Students can watch a video (below), and then develop instructions to build the machine. They should be clear on the purpose of their model before beginning to build it.
Students can select their own project, or complete one of the following:
Once students have built their model following the instructions, they should test the model and iterate on the design to ensure it demonstrates the purpose they outlined. They may need to consider improving the materials used or the mechanisms within the model.
Girls have been found to rely more heavily on instructions when engaging in hands on construction activities. Build student confidence by enabling them to follow multimedia instructions initially and then iterate on their designs.
When students are happy with their model, they can demonstrate it to the class, explaining how each component works, why they chose certain materials, and the role the machine plays in the farm to table process.