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Rice 5 – Fairtrade Rice Tasting – Science

This lesson allows the class to investigate differences between different varieties of rice and explore the potential causes.

Curriculum Links: KS2 Science, Design Technology, Geography
Learning Objective: To note similarities and differences.
Learning Outcome: Children have investigated the differences between varieties of Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade rice in India and Thailand, identified any differences and understood what causes them.

Resources needed: Different types of cooked Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade rice including basmati rice, brown basmati rice, long grained Thai rice, jasmine rice and black rice; Rice commodity profile, atlases.
Preparation: Rice should be cooked before the class

Starter: Read out the following statements and ask students to stand up if they think they are true and remain sitting if they believe them to be false.

• There are over 40,000 types of rice in the world (true)
• In Thailand some Green Net rice farmers use ducks in the paddy fields to eat bugs instead of chemicals (true)
• Not much basmati rice comes from India (false – 70% of Basmati rice originates in India and 2/3 is exported)

Main Activity: Explain to class that there are over 40,000 types of rice in the world, many of which are grown in the USA and Europe as well as Asia. However the most famous rice varieties such as basmati come from India and Thailand.

Conduct a rice tasting session including basmati rice (white and brown), long-grained Thai rice, jasmine rice and black rice. Where possible provide Fairtrade rice and non-Fairtrade rice.

As a class decide what pupils should be looking for and create a tasting sheet describing flavour, texture and aroma which are completed during the session. Pupils could also look at different types of rice before cooking and note differences.

Do Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade rice taste different? Are there any differences between them? (most likely not!) Ask the class to identify the difference between Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade rice, eliciting from them that the difference is in the treatment of producers not in the product itself.

Using atlases and the rice commodity profile, identify where basmati and jasmine rice are cultivated in India and Thailand and consider the differences between the environments. By recording these, class should gain an understanding of how different rice grains grow in different places due to the genotype, soil and other environmental factors.

If pupils have completed the Mapping India activity, ask them to stick some basmati rice on the map at the only place it can be grown, the foot of the Himalayas and mark the different environmental factors which are needed to grow it.

Plenary: Pupils work in pairs and then report back to the class on one thing their partner has learnt in the lesson.

Some classes may enjoying taking this lesson further by developing a mosaic of the world using different grains of rice to denote the different countries where they are cultivated. This could be extended to use other grain based food such as pasta and noodles.