Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Teaching Science and Math through Agriculture

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Teaching Science and Math through Agriculture

Article excerpt

A cooperative project been the Galena, Kansas, public schools, the University of Arkansas and the Abernathy Trust is using agriculture as a context from which to teach, reinforce and extend student understanding of science and mathematics. Abernathy Trustees want to reach students who find that traditional academic courses, such as science and math, have little relevance to their lives.

The project involves the development of a "model" curriculum and facilities. The curriculum is being built upon the concept of making science and math "real" to students by illustrating how scientific principles are applied to problems in agriculture. The facilities are designed to accommodate the curriculum and include a greenhouse and classroom/laboratory,

According to contextual learning theory, abstract principles are best learned when they can be related to real-life experiences. The model curriculum uses agriculture as the community-based context within which principles of science and mathematics can be taught and learned.

For example, the scientific method is taught by applying the process to solving a local farmer's problem of variations in crop growth in a specific field. A local agriculturalist visits the class and explains the problem by describing the symptoms. Students then do library research to identify possible causes for the problem and form research hypotheses. Students then design and conduct experiments to test each research hypothesis.

Next, students collect and analyze the research data. …

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