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Chili peppers and garlic

Author: ____Rachel Meyer______________ Date: ___2.4.2012_____________ Act. #__4_____

Activity Description/Rationale

This activity is the start of a focus on chili and garlic. We first entice students to see that the cultural importance of these plants is far beyond their initial expectations. After that, we begin to focus on the chemistry and the genes that make these plants functional. This is the first of a two-activity unit on chili pepper and garlic.

Estimated Time of Activity: 90 minutes

Goals: Process Skills, Content Knowledge, Attitudes:

Students will…

...gain exposure to different cultural uses of the crops of focus

...learn more uses fo chili pepper and garlic

...learn about archaeology and about clonal reproduction

...develop their vocabulary discussing domestication, particularly for  anthropology, breeding, breeding system changes, and basic botany parts.


Computer, projector

Printed articles for the students on the chili archaeology and on Garlic, section 1.2.2 (PDF NEEDS TO BE ATTACHED)

Pots, soil, garlic cloves (enough 1 clove per student)



Activity Instructions:


  1. (10 min) Start with this 1 minute video on spice contests.Then, concept map chili cultivars and associations people know. Starting questions include listing some types of chili pepper, ranging in spice? what does handling spice symbolize? How are words associated with chili usedi in society, e.g. hot, spicy?
  2. (20 min) Have students work in small groups of 2-3 to highlight parts of the article on chili archaeology that explains the following: uses, domestication syndrome, origin.
  3. (10 min) After students skimmed the article, discuss how the researchers found their evidence? What did they measure? The answer is the shape of the characteristics of the stems and the peduncle (the stem leading to the calyx).
  4. Take a break. (10 min) This is emphasized because it is a reading-heavy day.
  5. (10 min) When students return, have them watch the garlic video: an exerpt from the Les Blank film, Garlic is as good as 10 mothers. (~3 min). Discuss how the class felt about that video and the portrayal of garlic. Any overlap with their cultural value of garlic? Concept mapt garlic in similar fashion to chili pepper.
  6. (20 min) Have students read section 1.2.2 from the book "Garlic and other Alliums" (ATTACH PDF HERE). Have students highlight the sections pertaining to these questions, and then follow up with discussion in class. What was the domestication syndrome of garlic? Where was garlic domesticated? What is the evidence? How do you grow a garlic plant; from seed?
  7. (10 min) Pass out soil and small pots and garlic cloves and have students plant them. They can take them home or leave them in the classroom, but they should monitor their growth.


You can have them answer the questions about the articles and submit it to you, or you can keep it informal.


Assess whether they can get through the literature or not. Modify future lessons accordingly.

Instructor’s Notes:

Read the articles and book exerpts ahead of time and taylor the assessment strategy to your class.