Lifelines Online Summer 2000

Faculty Workshop

 Author Mary Anne McMurray
 Case Study  Tomatoes

Ruby, my next-door neighbor, planted tomatoes last year-just six plants, which she had purchased at Wal-Mart. They grew tall and produced numerous large red tasty tomatoes.

Two weeks earlier I had purchased four tomato plants at the same store. I had chosen four different varieties of tomato plants to see which produced the best tomatoes. None of my plants did very well though; my plants produced only about six tomatoes, and those were not very large or tasty, and most had various blemishes or bad spots that I had to cut out. I had heard that planting marigolds next to tomatoes helped keep away garden pests, so I planted four marigold plants between the tomato plants and gave two marigold plants to my neighbor to plant among her tomatoes.


What's going on with the tomatoes?

What are the elements of an ecosystem?

Getting Started 

Day 1

Introduction to the Case

· In small groups, one student reads story aloud.

· Small groups identify important ideas or terms that are key to understanding the situation more fully.

· Speakers from each group report-collect ideas-put ideas on board.

Development of Questions

· Small groups pose 2 or 3 specific questions they might want to pursue.

· Speakers report the best question their group came up with, until all groups are satisfied that their questions are represented. Instructor facilitates this activity.

· Instructor invites students to characterize the listed questions according to what type of learning activity the questions could lead to-(ICBL, p 79)

o Further brainstorming
o Searching out basic facts
o Finding information, analyzing it and finding patterns.
o Decision making
o Scientific investigations

Problem Solving 

Day 2

Problem Probing

· Each group chooses a question that they would like to pursue (or another question that they think of).

· Instructor makes specific resources available to groups

o By means of packet of materials, or
o By listing suggested resources and how to locate them, or
o By a combination of means

· Students work in groups and individually to pursue answers to the question they posed. It is anticipated that students will work individually or with group members between this class and next class to further enrich their research into the question.



Tomato Plants: Healthy, Mineral Deficient
Tomatoes from Grocery: Various varieties
Photographs of Tomatoes, Tomato Plants infected/infested with various pathogens, Plants with Mineral Deficiencies


· Control of Tomato Blights in the Home Garden

·Introduction to Tomatoes

· All Tomato Varieties Certainly Not the Same

· Tomato Diseases

· Garden with Insight (a Garden Simulator that you can download)

· Green Light Tomato & Vegetable Garden Dust Controls Insect Pests

· Tomato Hornworm and Braconid Wasp Parasites

· Plant Encyclopedia,1073,1118,00.html

· Bacterial Canker of Tomato

Insects and Other Pests

· Bacterial Canker of Tomato; Preventing Tomato Diseases

· Home Garden Tomato Production in Forsyth County

· Tomato Problems Defined

· Garden Bug Tipz

· Companion Plants in the Vegetable Garden

· Tips for Top Tomatoes

Newspaper Articles

· How Big Will Your Tomato Plants Be? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

... garden/Tomato_Potential.html

· New restrictions coming on Dursban, a widely used pesticide



Articles from trade journals

· Sustainable Production of Fresh-Market Tomatoes and OtherVegetables With Organic Mulches

· University of California Pest Management Guidelines

Textbooks/lab manuals
(References to be determined)


· Garden with Insight (a Garden Simulator that you can download)

· EDM (Environmental Decision Making)


Concept Map of Tomato Garden Ecosystem

This could link the Case Study to the specific concepts; it could also informally introduce students to concept mapping.

o Link various components of the ecosystem to specific resources?
o Link student presentations to specific ecosystem components.

Also see


Day 3

Preparation of Peer Presentations

· Students work in groups to prepare a poster that they will use to share what they learned and how they learned it. Groups are encouraged to use visual illustration to supplement textual materials.

Day 4

Peer Presentations

· Each group reports to rest of class; group members/instructor encourage questions and suggestions from classmates.

Day 5


· Students in small groups will consider "Dangers of Milkweed Munchers"

Group members will explore the characteristics of each of the five organisms mentioned in the activity, and then create a concept map to illustrate the ecological relationships of these organisms to one another.

· Student groups will use their concept maps to explain the ecosystem relationships they identified to one other small group.

Assessment and Evaluation 



This first case study will not be assessed for a grade, but will be used to develop students ability to evaluate their efforts and use evaluations to improve future performance.

· Each group identifies the good qualities/strengths of their effort including problem posing, problem probing, and peer persuasion/presentation. It is anticipated that a list of specific qualities would be helpful to students at this point; students would be invited to add to the list of qualities.

· Each group will be invited to identify the good qualities of each other's efforts.

· Instructor will also prepare a similar assessment report for each group.

· Group will review all of the assessments of their work and identify areas that they might want to improve upon for a future case study.



Hand out "Zea's Wild Roots" (Waterman and Stanley, 1998).

Students will:

· construct at least three questions that an ecology student might pose concerning relationships among at least three components of the farm ecosystem described.

· describe, as specifically as possible, a resource that s/he might use to explore one of the questions posed.

· identify one ecosystem mentioned in "Zea's Wild Roots", and list at least five organisms that are, or might be expected to be members of that ecosystem.

· make a diagram showing the relationships among the members of that ecosystem.