World History: Journey Across Time

Chapter 14: Medieval Japan

Web Activity Lesson Plans

As students learned in this chapter, much of Japan's wealth came from the hard work of the country's farmers. During the Middle Ages, rice was Japan's chief crop. After hundreds of years, rice remains the most important crop. This single speck of grain has an amazing history and a promising future. In this activity, students will learn about the origin and production of rice, and the growing crisis that surrounds this crop and the promise it holds for Asia and Africa.

Students will visit the NOVA Online feature titled "Japan's Secret Garden, Miracle of Rice" to learn more about this crop that means so much to so many.

Destination Title: Japan's Secret Garden, Miracle of Rice

Lesson Description
Students will read about the miracle of rice. They will learn how important rice is to the Japanese. Students will watch a short video featuring the rice growing season. They will watch an animated video that teaches how to build a rice paddy. Students will gain a better understanding of the rice crisis that Asia faces. They will learn about the opportunity that genetically modified rice holds for the people of Asia. They will answer four questions about what they have learned. They will then create a cause-and-effect chart detailing the potential that genetically modified rice holds for the people of Asia.

Instructional Objectives

  • Students will describe the production of rice. They will learn about the advantages of genetically modified rice.
  • Students will create a cause-and-effect chart detailing the potential of genetically modified rice.

Student Web Activity Answers

  • 11 percent
  • gentle slope, year-round water, and easy access to building materials
  • Japan must import most of its meat, fish, and fruit. Rice is grown in the country and makes up 50 to 80 percent of the daily caloric intake for each person. For these reasons, the government prohibits the import of rice and it is viewed as a symbol of independence.
  • Rice production must increase to feed the growing Asian population, which counts on rice for 50 to 80 percent of each person's daily caloric intake.
  • Answers will vary but may include all of the following: reduced plant height allows farmers to cover plants with larger amounts of powdered fertilizer without causing their stalks to sag and topple; a shortened growing period means farmers can plant two or three crops each year; genetically modified rice is resistant to disease and insects; the addition of stalks to each plant (from about 15 to 25) would allow for more panicles per plant; and Golden Rice is fortified with vitamin A to prevent blindness and death.

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