Monday, February 13, 2012

Dairy, Sheep, Tootsie Rolls, Ethanol...

You might wonder how a post can cover Dairy, Sheep, Tootsie Rolls and Ethanol - well, the answer is that earlier today LP and I headed into our local school to help with Ag in the Classroom.

In our area, our Ag in the Classroom program is unique.  It is a 501(c)3 organization with three part-time employees who go out to schools in six counties to deliver the programs, develop the curriculum, and work on grants and sponsorship for the program.  All six counties' Farm Bureau boards are sponsors of the organization.  In the last school year the program visited nearly 7,000 students in over 20 school districts.

At our school visit today we visited students grades Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Ag in the Classroom has been visiting our local school for the last six years and I was impressed with how much information the students retained from previous years' programs.  In Iowa two of our main commodities are corn and soybeans.  Each classroom visit starts with reviewing what field corn and soybeans are used for.  All the kids remembered that the top purpose for both of these is that they are fed to animals.  Then they talk how they consume the products (high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, soy lecithin, etc.) and how the commodities are used for fuels (ethanol and biodiesel).

LP helping with the 4th grade "Where did my supper come from?" activity
Here is a quick list of the programs we did today.  If you are interested in learning anymore about any of these curriculums, contact the North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom organization.

Kindergarten:  Dairy - The students learned the story of a dairy cow and the production of milk.  They also made their own butter.
1st Grade:  My Farm Connection - The students matched up products that came from several commodities.
2nd Grade:  Sheep - The students read a book about sheep and making wool.  Then they carded their own sample of wool and died it with Kool-Aid.
3rd Grade:  What's in my Tootsie Roll? - The students learned about the production of cocoa and the creation of chocolate.  They also learned about reading food labels.
4th Grade:  Where did my supper come from? - The students first identified on a map worksheet the top producing states of many ag commodities.  Then they received different supper menus and had to decide what ingredients were used in their supper, along with what state(s) those ingredients would have come from.
5th Grade:  Ethanol - The students made their own "ethanol" by crushing up animal crackers (corn and sugars), added yeast and hot water and then watched a "chemical reaction" occur.  They also walked through the process of an ethanol plant.

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