Chocolate money

chocolate money image

Europeans love chocolate – we eat over half the world’s supply! The bad news is that we are eating more cocoa than can be produced and soon chocolate may become a rare and precious commodity as farmers struggle to meet demand. In this activity students apply their knowledge of pollination to discuss why cocoa yields on a plantation are decreasing. They then find out who funds scientific research by taking roles in a funding meeting – can they work out a deal where all parties will benefit?

Learning objective

In this lesson students will analyse a science issue using:

  • Ecosystem: why insect pollination is important in producing our food
  • Science in society: understand who funds scientific research

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Curriculum link

England National Curriculum KS3:

  • Experimental skills and investigation: ask questions and develop a line of enquiry based on observations of the real world, alongside prior knowledge and experience
  • Biology: Relationships in an ecosystem: the importance of plant reproduction through insect pollination in human food security

Running the activity

Starter The news story is presented: people are eating more chocolate than can be produced and soon it could run out
Main Students apply their knowledge about pollination to solve the problem of decreasing cocoa yields. They role-play a funding meeting
Plenary Class discussion on who funds scientific research and why.

For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.


The cocoa crisis

News story on why chocolate supplies are running low.

Cocoa pollination research project

Background reading for teachers. The real research project that the one in the activity was based on.

Chocolate in the Ivory Coast

You can use this video to show the students how cocoa is harvested. The section 3:02-3:44 is suitable. If you have time, your students may enjoy watching the rest of the video which shows cocoa farmers tasting chocolate for the first time.

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  • roxigeo says:

    chocolate money

    Un material exceptional!

  • renrut says:

    Ideal at the end of topic on reproduction

    My class were intrigued by this activity, they enjoyed the opportunity to take on different roles and worked well in different groups throughout the lesson. It fitted in well with our topic, was a nice activity to do at the end of term while introducing important ethical and commercial considerations.

  • Jude S says:

    Chocolate money in Uruguay

    I recently used these materials with teacher trainers and advisors in Uruguay with interesting results (nb I used the Spanish versions of the materials). It was great to see the teachers in the role of students. They were highly engaged and loved taking part in the debate – which was very well structured. The teachers came up with the same types of questions that students have when I’ve used this in school which was interesting and the supporting materials were excellent and provided the right type of prompts.

    However it did raise some interesting cultural differences, although the words fundraiser and funder had the same translation in Spanish they had different meanings culturally – they could not understand what the role of the fundraisers was and on whose ‘side’ they would be. The debate became an interesting farmers vs Monsanto role play.

    • Silvia says:

      Take advantage of the Spanish National site of ENGAGE

      Dear Jude S,
      So nice to hear that you have used this material, both with students and with teacher trainers and advisors. I’m glad that you find them useful.
      I’m one of the ENGAGE advisors for the Spanish site, and I wish to invite you to comment on this or other materials in Spanish. There you will have the opportunity to exchange your views with other Spanish-speaking teachers and advisors:
      I’ll be curious to hear more about how your students engaged in the debate that you mention: which challenges did you face as a teacher? Would you use this material again?
      All my best,