A few potatoes in a pile

Activity: Use potatoes to explore diversity.

Adapted from More Diversity Activities for Youth and Adults (Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences 2004)

For this activity each student in the class needs a potato to look at/hold.

Each student should take a minute or two to carefully examine their potato, and make a note of its appearance and ‘personality’. Each student should then introduce their potato friend to the group and share a story about their potato explaining something about its appearance (shape, bumps, scars etc.). If this is an online class, each student can post a photo of their potato friend with a short introduction and story.

Everyone should then place all of the potatoes into bag. Then students can discuss the following questions by providing reasons for their answers.

Discussion questions

It would be easy to group all potatoes together and categorise them as the same and they are all the same in certain ways.

    1. In what ways are the potatoes the same?
    2. In what ways are the potatoes different?
    3. If I had a line-up of all the potatoes or emptied the bag now would you be able to find ‘your friend’? (Students can try to identify their potato amongst the group of potatoes).

We can do the same thing now but think about groups of people. Can you think of students as belonging to certain groups?

For example groups based on:

  • socio-economic background
  • religious affiliation
  • gender
  • racial or ethnic background
  • where they live (city, country, remote)
  • mathematics ability

In what ways are people different?

  • What is it called when we lump all people from a particular group together?
  • Would you say that all the people in the group that you’re thinking about share all of the same characteristics?
  • What can happen if we treat people based on the group that we categorise them into?

In what ways are all people the same?

  • Are there characteristics that are the same that are important for how we should treat people?
  • Are generalisations and stereotypes fair?
  • Are generalisations and stereotypes harmful?
  • Are generalisations and stereotypes dangerous?


College of Agricultural Sciences Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension 2004, More Diversity Activities for Youth and Adults, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, viewed 30 August 2016, <http://extension.psu.edu/publications/ui378>

Image: http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/