The highly-anticipated FARM Science Lab, or Food, Agriculture, & Resources in Motion Science Lab supported through the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, has officially been on the road for an entire school year. This 40-foot mobile classroom, designed for kindergarten through fifth grade education, was a concept initiated by Michigan Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee in 2014 and became a reality in September 2017.
“The FARM Science Lab was created to increase agricultural awareness and understanding by providing elementary students a hands-on look at where the food comes from with an out-of-the-classroom experience that is directly connected to the Next Generation Science Standards,” said FARM Science Lab manager Michelle Blodgett.
Since its launch, the lab has visited 52 schools and 24 counties in Michigan, impacting more than 16,000 students and 550 teachers. The program is facilitated by regional educators, who aim to expand participants’ horizons regarding science and agriculture.
“I was very impressed by the FARM Science Lab instructor. She engaged the students masterfully. She asked probing questions and thought quick on her feet,” said a fifth-grade teacher from Webberville Community Schools. “A valuable outside the classroom experience! I loved it and so did my students.”
“Many have never been to a farm or thought about where their food comes from beyond the grocery store, said Blodgett. Seeing the excitement in their faces when you talk about all the science careers and opportunities linked to farming is so rewarding.”
While the 2017-2018 school year has been incredibly successful, this is just the beginning for the FARM Science Lab program. The summer months will be filled with training new and current regional educators, a little cleaning, organizing and maintenance, and completing the lab’s first trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In addition to visiting schools in the peninsula’s central region, the mobile classroom will be on display during the U.P. State Fair, August 16 - 19 in Escanaba.
The 2018-2019 school year is already heavily booked, reflecting the high demand for the lab. It has become clear that Michigan’s educational community desires for their students to learn more about where food comes from, and Michigan Farm Bureau plans to continue to meet this desire.
“Through the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, we are in the midst of fundraising for FARM Science Lab 2,” Blodgett explained, “As contributions are secured, we are in the process of looking at plans for the new build and aiming for launch of the second lab in September of 2019!”
The additional lab will continue to provide the same K-5 programming, and will expand the availability of food, agriculture, and resources education programming for students in Michigan.