Skip to main content

Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Companion Resource

The Making of a New Apple Cultivar

This high school activity introduces students to apple growing and shows them how selective breeding is used to benefit both the apple grower and consumer by producing a new and better-quality apple.

Time to Complete
45 minutes
  1. Discuss answers to the following questions:
    • How many different varieties of apples can you name?
    • How many of them have you eaten?
    • Which are your favorites and why?
  2. Ask sudents to begin thinking about different traits apples have and how those traits are determined.
  3. Give each student one copy of The Making of a New Apple Variety worksheet, Parts A, B & C.
  4. Watch the video - APPLE – How Does It Grow?
  5. Assign students to complete the Part A worksheet and discuss their responses. This part of the activity will help them understand apple growing and the many different apple varieties and traits.
  6. Next, students should look at Part B of their worksheet, and go to the Orange Pippin website (listed on their worksheet) for information to complete the first two columns for the Enterprise and Honeycrisp apples. Use all sections of each apple’s webpage to complete the data table.
  7. Be sure students:
    • Analyze the data.
    • Discuss the similarities and differences in the two apples.
    • Record the findings in a Venn diagram (Part B Worksheet).
    • Review dominant and recessive traits. Think about the question, "Is it possible to determine whether any of the traits students researched are either dominant or recessive?"
  8. The Cosmic Crisp® apple is a new, non-browning apple developed by Washington State University. This apple is the result of the selective breeding of the Enterprise and Honeycrisp™ apples. To complete the 3rd column of the Part B worksheet, students should use the Orange Pippin and Cosmic Crisp websites.
  9. Discuss the variety of apple cultivars that have been developed; how are apples bred?
  10. Students will need to watch the following videos to complete the Part C worksheet: Developing the Cosmic Crisp Apple. Have students discuss their findings with their group.


Apples are one of the most important agricultural crops produced in the United States, and we are the second largest producer in the world. However, this production rate can be challenged by other apple-producing countries. It is important to continue to develop new apple cultivars. Apple breeders use deliberate processes to maintain an apple supply that is both grower and consumer friendly.

FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

This activity is part of the Science and Our Food Supply: Exploring Food Agriculture and Biotechnology (2020) curriculumFind more classroom activities for middle and high school on the Matrix.

Lessons Associated with this Resource