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Educating our youngest consumersEducating our youngest consumers

Sharing information about Minnesota livestock and crop production helps elementary students understand where their food comes from.

Paula Mohr

February 19, 2016

3 Min Read

Students in grades K-5 at School For All Seasons in Isanti packed a lot of learning in this week.

For three mornings this week, staff hosted its annual STEAM week. At School For All Seasons, STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Environment, Arts and Mathematics. The school is open year-round and is part of the Cambridge-Isanti School District 911. STEAM enrichment is in all core curriculum classes every day.

I know students learned a lot those days as I was one of about 16 volunteers who visited the school and shared information and activities that focused on one or more of those five areas. Students were given a list of ‘classes’ and then chose which ones that wanted to attend.


Of course, I shared my favorite topic—agriculture—with them.

With help from Sue Knott at Minnesota Ag in the Classroom and educational and promotional items donated by Minnesota Soybean, I was well-prepared to offer several sessions.

I created my own Power Points and spun off on materials I found online from MAITC and other ag-related websites.

Over the course of three intense mornings of learning, I shared with:

-Kindergarten: The importance of eating a balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables. For our hands-on activity, we sorted colored fruit candies of various shapes.

-First Grade: Animals, their life cycles and their care. Our activity involved students learning the different names of ‘mom,’ 'dad’ and ‘baby’ for each livestock species.

-Second Grade: Earth as an Apple. I used an apple to demonstrate how we have a very limited amount of soil on earth to grow food. The apple provided a good visual for this as I cut it down into pieces of 1/32. Then when I peeled the skin off 1/32, that thin skin provided a representation of the good soil left for food production. I shared the importance of taking care of our natural resources and what Minnesota farmers are doing to help protect our soil and water quality. We also had a taste test of three types of apples.

-Third-Fifth Grades: Minnesota farm products in our lesson ‘Pancakes and Syrup’ and the multi-purpose soybean featured in our lesson ‘From Soybeans to Car Parts.’

One morning I shared with students where our flour, milk, sugar, eggs and maple syrup is produced in the state. As we stirred up pancakes, there was opportunity to talk about the ‘science’ of cooking (physical and chemical changes in ingredients) as well as practice basic cooking skills, such as how to measure flour. Several students also were busy with shaking small jars of heavy whipped cream to make butter. Need I say that this session was a big hit? Everyone enjoyed their buttermilk pancakes!

With our soybean lesson set for another morning, we learned about soybean history, thanks to a few very good videos made by the Wisconsin Soybean Association and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board entitled ‘Soy Savvy.’ I highly recommend checking them out online. I also shared information about Minnesota soybean production and then we made ‘plastic.’ This involved mixing a small amount of wet, shredded newspaper with a couple tablespoons of tofu. After microwaving it on high for a couple of minutes, you get a solid mass that feels like foamy plastic.

Overall, I had the opportunity to share about Minnesota agriculture with more than 100 students in that time. Our time together flew by, especially in the 3rd-5th grade classes. Those students asked some great questions about human nutrition, animal care and food processing.

I look forward to sharing information with our young consumers. They will be the ones making the food purchasing decisions in the not-too-distant future.

About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Paula Mohr has been editor of The Farmer since 2004. She enjoys covering a wide range of topics that are of interest to Minnesota producers.

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