Where Have the Beans Been? Student-Driven Laboratory Learning Activities with Legumes for Conceptual Change

by Dr. Abour H. Cherif, Sana Kassem, Dr. JoElla E. Siuda, Dr. Charles Cannon, Dr. Stefanos Gialamas, Dr. Farahnaz Movahedzadeh

published in the Journal of Education and Practice, 2018


Accessible, familiar, relevant, effective and expansive teaching and learning resources is the dream of every teacher and educator throughout all types of educational systems. Furthermore, engaging students in meaningful scientific investigations using familiar objects inspire students to make the needed connection with the science concept being introduced. Actively engaging in solving problems, and arriving at empirically based conclusions, leads to a lasting effect on students’ learning; what is more, a deep appreciation of science and the real understanding of the scientific process is fostered. In this paper, we provide a set of laboratory-based activities using a variety of edible legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.) to introduce students to various STEM concepts in integrated, empirical investigations. Legumes have been grown throughout the world, and have been cultivated since ancient times for more than 11,000 years. The seeds of legumes come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and are known for their differing nutritional values based on their content. But most of all, they are accessible, familiar, real and relevant, and are limitless in terms of locales where they can be found. It is precisely these reason that make them an effective teaching and learning resource in the laboratory classroom settings. Throughout all these laboratory learning activities, students engage in hands-on experiments, conducting research, engage in productive discussion, write scientific papers, and present their findings within a scientific framework. Through these set of inquiry activities, teachers and students will never look at beans in the same way again. Perhaps in fact, teachers may even consider them as one of their best teaching and learning resources. Finally, the appendix section offers more ideas that support the teachers whom is introducing these scientific concepts with the use of legumes. We include additional ideas, information, activities, and questions (complete with answers) that we feel students may ask during the learning process. In doing so, we aim to save time and energy for those teachers who wish to use and/or adapt the suggested laboratory learning activities as a means of introducing conceptual changes.