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Children Explore Agricultural Science on Wheels

Young chemists in action.

Young chemists in action.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Ahhh!  Remember the days of taking classroom field trips?  Bet you never had one like this—a virtual visit by a classroom on wheels that drives right up to the school’s front door!

Such was the recent treat for K-5 students at Beltsville Academy in Beltsville, Md., just down the road from the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC). Nationwide, BARC is the largest location of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Over the past several years, BARC and Friends of Agricultural Research-Beltsville (FAR-B)—a  nonprofit organization that supports BARC research and programs—have coordinated  numerous  science enrichment programs at Beltsville Academy to help kids learn more about agricultural science.  This fall, BARC and FAR-B teamed up with the school to sponsor a visit from the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation’s “Agricultural Products” mobile science lab.

Inside the mobile lab, retired science teachers skilled in making science “come alive” promote the importance of agriculture in our daily lives, and conduct experiments featured on the lab’s kid-sized workbenches.

Younger students heard a story about cows, talked about dairy foods, made butter from heavy cream, and then taste tested their experiment on graham crackers.

Older students played “chemist,” producing glue from milk and then testing its strength against a commercial variety using several objective tests.  Problem, hypothesis, procedure, results, conclusion—the scientific method in action!

One third-grader was overheard saying, “I’m going to save my glue so we don’t have to buy it anymore.”

The school’s principal, Rashida Edwards, praised the program, saying, “This was a great experience for the kids.  It reinforced the importance of agriculture in our daily lives, showed how science can be fun, and you just never know what might motivate kids—maybe we’ve even inspired some future scientists!”

Want to learn more about cool science experiments?  Check out us out here.

Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation’s classroom on wheels—the “Agricultural Products” Mobile Science Laboratory.

Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation’s classroom on wheels—the “Agricultural Products” Mobile Science Laboratory.

2 Responses to “Children Explore Agricultural Science on Wheels”

  1. Kim Davidson says:

    I am the Clark County Ag Awareness Coordinator in Illinois. I would very much like to get something like this going in my area. Could someone contact me to help me get pointed in the right direction? I recently attended the National Ag in the Classroom convention in Hershey, PA and they had an Ag on Wheels that I was fascinated by. I would appreciate any help you could give. Thanks. My office number is 217 382-4144.

  2. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    Hi Kim, thanks for your comment. We hope the information below will help you.

    Contact for Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation’s Elementary Program, including their Mobile Science Lab Program: Jeanne Mueller at 410-848-4745, jmueller@maefonline.com.

    Their website: http://www.maefonline.com/programs_agriculture_showcase_maryland_agricultural_education.html

    Contacts for Ag in the Classroom:

    Rick Waitley, NAITC Executive Director
    rick@amgidaho.com
    Idaho Agriculture in the Classroom
    55 SW 5th Ave, Suite 100
    Meridian, ID 83642-8638
    Phone: 208.888.0988
    Fax: 208.888.4586

    Debra Spielmaker, Project Director
    debra.spielmaker@usu.edu
    Agriculture in the Classroom
    Utah State University
    6000 Old Main Hill
    Logan, UT 84322-6000
    Phone: 435.213.5562
    Fax: 435.797.4002

    Nancy Valentine, National Program Leader
    NValentine@nifa.usda.gov
    4-H National Headquarters
    Division of Youth & 4-H
    Institute of Youth, Family & Community, NIFA, USDA
    800 9th St. SW
    Room 4313
    Washington, DC 20024
    Phone: 202.720.5347
    Fax: 202.720.9366

    Rose Judd-Murray, Project Coordinator
    rose.juddmurray@usu.edu
    Agriculture in the Classroom
    Utah State University
    6000 Old Main Hill Logan
    Utah 84322-6000

    National Ag Science Education Center’s, Ag-in-motion in California
    http://agsciencecenter.org/explore-ag-in-motion

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