Magazine article Technology and Children

Try Your Hand at Farming

Magazine article Technology and Children

Try Your Hand at Farming

Article excerpt

A Software Review of SimFarm

SimFarm is an exciting, imaginative simulation that will engage you and your students in all kinds of learning--from the history of farming to the technology involved in fertilizers and pesticides as well as modern farm equipment and machinery--while you're trying to design and run a successful farm. Farming is a challenging business, as you will see in SimFarm. Students in Grades 4-5 will take this simulation and run with it. For Grades 1-3, you might elect to work on it as a group project. Either way, your students will be delighted with the outcome.

One purpose of using this simulation is to put your students in touch with today's farm and farming technology. There are many new technologies that affect the food we eat, such as foods preserved by irradiation, and the use of refrigeration to keep perishable goods better for longer periods of time. Harvesting operations have been mechanized for every plant product known, and breeding programs have increased production. We also have more organic foodstuffs, and laws to inhibit the use of chemicals, pesticides and animal hormones in some instances. As your students build a farm from the ground up they will be involved in making many decisions that determine the success of their farms.

To help you get started, there are eight preset scenarios, each of which provides a different farming challenge with a different-sized farm, town, and bank account. Every simulation begins with a specified amount of money that is used to purchase equipment, animals, etc. Another way to begin a farm is to click on a region of the U.S. and start a brand new farm with land and weather conditions similar to your own area. Since SimFarm, like other Maxis simulations, does not make you follow a linear, predetermined path, you will have lots of fun and gain a lot of experience just by experimenting to see what happens as you plant crops or add animals to your farm.

Soil quality, the weather, chemical additives, and disasters affect the quality of fields and their output. There are 24 different crops. Each crop has its own planting, growing, and harvesting needs. In addition, the crops respond to the soil quality, which is easily affected by the pesticides, fertilizers, and water that you add.

You can take many approaches to running your farm. You can concentrate on crop production, animal husbandry, environmental friendliness or making your farm a very successful business. Immediate information on how your farm is doing is available from the Farm Expert window.

The four types of livestock are cows, pigs, sheep, and horses. …

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