Celebrating A Re-Engineered Crop of Thinkers
In April I had a conversation with Karina Colón’s fifth grade class at Smith Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh. Her students were preparing a presentation on genetically engineered crops. Mrs. Colón was concerned that the students were not getting balanced, science-based information and she reached out to me to provide a counter-point. (See previous blog post.) Together the students, Mrs. Colón and I looked carefully at some of their resources and we worked to focus their discussion before moving on to answer some tough questions.
|Karina Colón (L) and me|
Before our conversation, the students were willing to accept Internet information at face value, without questioning its source, the writer’s motivation, or the scientific validity of the information. Looking carefully at their resources, we were able to recognize that some reports are designed to inflame, not to inform.
Mrs. Colón subsequently invited me to attend their end-of-year event, to hear the students deliver their final presentation, where I was treated like visiting royalty.
|The 5th grade student "garden" at Smith Magnet Elementary|
As a guest of honor, I was escorted by students to my “Reserved” seat at the front of the room. The student team -- Lee, Charitee, Imonae, William, Elia and Patricia -- introduced themselves and me to the assembled visitors and family members. They then gave us a well-thought-out presentation that included slides and video clips; a true multi-media experience!
After our conversation and under Mrs. Colón’s leadership, the students said they had gone back to take a careful look at their sources. As a result, they gave a balanced presentation that described the history and purpose of genetically engineered crops, how genetically engineered crops are created, and some of the perceived pros and cons. They even addressed the genetically modified organism labeling controversy. Based on their research, these students decided they support labeling of foods containing genetically engineered components, and feel that as consumers they have a right to know what is in their food.
I didn’t have to agree with all of their conclusions. I’m just proud to get the opportunity to work with teachers and students who are so committed to getting a balanced and scientifically accurate perspective on a controversial subject.