The Role of Science in Agricultural Education: A Student's Perspective

Article excerpt

THEME ARTICLE

What is the relationship between females and science? Most studies show that there is not a strong relationship. Interest in science among adolescents has declined even though society is increasingly affected by scientific and technological developments (Smith & Hausafus 1988). Females are even less interested in science than males. This trend can be changed - and the key is incorporating science into the AgriScience curriculum.

As female members of a strong high school AgriScience program, our interest in science developed early in high school. Our AgriScience teacher firmly believed in using science to demonstrate the principles of agriculture and taught us those same beliefs. As sophomores majoring in AgriScience Education at Michigan State University, we recognize the importance of developing and using a curriculum centered on the core principles of science.

What is Science?

According to AgriScience Explorations, an AgriScience book that we used in high school, science is learning about the world in which we live through observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. Although we agree with this definition, to the typical high school student, the definition of science seems much simpler. Science provides the opportunity to be creative, experimental and experience information through entertaining avenues, such as hands-on projects, like planting seeds and observing their growth or dissecting animals. With much of today's population being visual learners, this action-oriented type of science-based learning proves extremely beneficial to students.

Science in the Classroom

Thinking back to science in junior high, we recall learning about the basic aspects of science, including biology and earth science. In these classes, we learned information from the textbook; however, we also performed projects dealing with dissections, research papers, and lab reports where textbook information was put to use.

In high school, these scientific principles were reinforced in additional science courses; however, it was not until our AgriScience courses that we really grasped the concept of science. With many different AgriScience options in our high school, including botany, veterinary science, ag economics/business management, environmental science, and horticulture/landscaping, we had a variety of choices when looking for an AgriScience class. Throughout school, we enrolled in three of these classes and found each subject to contain different aspects of science.

For example, in botany, we studied the germination of several different types of seeds. After looking at the way in which seeds germinate, we narrowed the study to look at one type of seed. Before beginning, we studied the scientific method and developed a proper experimental design to determine the hypothesis, independent/dependent variables, and control measures. At the end of the experiment, we drew conclusions, determined implications, and identified further studies.

We used the same methods in veterinary science when conducting experiments with animals. In addition, we performed many dissections, including those on a fetal pig and a Cornish hen. This allowed us to visualize the reactions that take place in animals and to identify their different organs. After dissecting, we learned how science plays a role in the functions of living organisms.

Science Applied to Life

Information and hands-on experience that we gained from within our AgriScience curriculum proved to be useful to us outside of our AgriScience classes. During our junior and senior year of high school, we served as the co-managers of our AgriScience program's greenhouse where we were in charge of plant selection, production schedules and marketing of plant material.

The principles that we learned in classes proved invaluable in this position. …