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Water: Articles and Activities for Middle School Students

Activities: "Improving Old MacDonald's Farm"

For Grades 6 - 8

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Improving Old MacDonald's Farm (Full Article) (PDF) (2 pp, 378K)

Improving Old MacDonald's Farm (Activity Sheets) (PDF) (9 pp, 871K)


Exercise I. Old MacDonald's Farmland Fertilizer Dilemma
Exercise II. Mooooving Those Cows


This exercise is designed to further explore topics addressed in the accompanying article. Students work through calculations to determine how much fertilizer is needed to meet a plant's nutrient requirements. From these calculations, students draw conclusions about the most cost-effective and environmentally sound farming practices.

Time Required

Individual exercises are designed to be approximately 1/2 hour to 45 minutes long. These exercises are also ordered progressively: each builds on concepts introduced in the previous.

Curricular Standards and Skills


  • word problems
  • addition
  • subtraction
  • multiplying decimals
  • working with money
  • order of operations

Thinking Skills

  • deductive reasoning

Language Arts

  • reading comprehension


  • dead zone
  • eutrophication
  • pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides
  • sedimentation



Middle Schools  |  Improving Old MacDonald's Farm  |  Exercise I  |  Exercise II

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