The Tomato Challenge





To appreciate varieties of fruits and vegetables and their imperfections. To practice observational skills


Why do we grow different kinds of tomatoes?

Do different tomato varieties taste the same?


A tomato for each student (have a variety of similarly sized tomatoes with different shades/colors, skin imperfections, etc.). Paper, clipboards, pencils, and colored pencils, retractable measuring tapes, cutting board, knife, tasting cups or plates



Are all tomatoes the same? No! Tomatoes are different colors, shapes, and tastes. Today each of you are going to get a unique tomato. What does the word ​unique​ mean? It’s not the same as any other tomato in the whole world! (Show how 2 very similar red tomatoes can even have small differences.) Using scientific details and observation, you are going to draw and color your unique tomato on paper. You will use a measuring tape to measure how big around it is and how tall it is. Then you can write one detail about your tomato. Here is the challenge: you will draw your tomato and its details so well, that when all the tomatoes are put back in this bowl, we will be able to know which tomato is yours.


Model for them drawing a tomato, measuring, and writing one detail/clue.

Every student gets a tomato and a paper on the way to their seat (remind students that you get what you get and you don’t get upset). Remind them to pay attention to their tomato, not their neighbor’s. If they finish early, add more details!

When everyone is finished (about 10 minutes) put the tomatoes back in the bowl. Sit in a circle. One by one each student will show their tomato drawing and share their clue, and a classmate will try to pick which tomato they drew/described. Let every student share. To make it challenging, have a couple extra tomatoes in the bowl to make process of elimination not so clear.


Sample and taste a variety of tomatoes (3 is usually a good amount). Encourage conversation about differences and similarities in tomatoes. If there’s time, you can make a list on the board of tasting words.


Extension:​ categorize tomatoes by weight, measurements, colors, etc. relate this to a farmer’s job of selling tomatoes

Variation:​ use winter squash, pumpkins, bean pods, or any fruit or veggie for this exercise.