We don’t know if you know this, but it’s 2017. It’s the age of information, of technology, of the internet. What space does that really leave us for trades that might be termed more ‘old school’? More traditional? Well, let’s talk about it. Agriculture in the classroom can be a complicated, often abrupt subject to touch on because it effects other subjects; science, economics, history, and sometimes government. Agriculture is so much more than cows, so much more than a John Deere on a pretty field just ready to be harvested. Agriculture is a state of mind; it’s reaping what you sow at it’s very core value. So what, we might ask, would be its place in today’s education system?
Ultimately, it isn’t about whether our students end up with a future in agriculture, or whether they become entrepreneurs. It’s about instilling lifelong learning, it’s about inspiring a constant interest in new things, in sustainable things, in investing your time, your patience, your work into something that you know, some day, will be something. In the world today, everything is about ‘but what can I get right now? I need that right now.’ What about tomorrow? That is the value of agriculture in the classroom. Instilling in students that playing the waiting game, having patience and perseverance, can benefit is certainly worth the effort.
1. Learning Early
So, for children in elementary, diving into the deep end of agriculture can be a little overwhelming, so let’s start with something basic. The shoe-box maze. This little experiment is a great way to introduce kids to the realm of ‘phototropism’. That is, plants’ ability to follow light, and grow towards it.
2. Middle School – Decomposition and the Role it Plays in Plant Growth
In this particular lesson, students observe earthworms speeding up the decomposition of organic matter, and learn how it adds nutrients back into the soil. They also learn that plants rely on this a great deal. There are several ways to approach this, check out one take on this project here.
3. High School Level: Higher Learning
Stimulating students’ ability to comprehend the long term effects of natural disasters, and human interactions with nature can produce more conscious adults. In this exercise, use things like photos and short videos of the Dust Bowl and its effects to help students start to think over the impact of events on natural resources. Promote a discussion on how farmers can negatively and positively impact the quality of resources like soil and water.