Carol Wilkinson1, Pamela Shepherd1, Kevin F. Camm2 and Paula R. Gray3, (1)Virginia Tech, Blackstone, VA (2)Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Lynchburg, VA (3)King Arthur Flour Company, Inc., White River Junction, VT
Developing an early interest in the fun and excitement of science is critical to successfully encouraging students to pursue a higher education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). A collaborative partnership was developed among Virginia Tech, Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), King Arthur Flour Company (KAF), Future Farmers of America, and Southside Gleaning Network to deliver Agriculture Awareness Day (AAD) for fifth grade students. KAF conducted the Life Skills Bread Baking Program® which provides students with a fun, real-world application for the skills they are already learning in school such as math, science, reading, planning, problem-solving, and more. Each future baker was provided all materials necessary to make two delicious loaves of bread at home – one to enjoy and the other for donation to a community organization. In addition, VCE conducted hands-on inquiry-based learning modules based on the state education standards. Students built an animal cell they could take home, extracted DNA from strawberries and made a necklace with the DNA in it, learned about molecules and polymers by playing with oobleck, learned about the earth’s resources by dissecting an apple, and wheat production and how it becomes flour. Each student was also provided with a journal so teachers could have follow-up discussions in the classroom. All fifth grade students from public and private schools in four counties participated in the AAD program. Evaluation forms completed by the teachers stated that the AAD program contributed to the students preparation for standardized state tests, the hands-on learning reinforced topics taught in the classroom, and highlighted the educational value of the Life Skills Bread Baking Program®. Many teachers stated that AAD is the only program where students could have these experiences. The AAD program will work equally well in a rural or urban environment.