BROCKWAY — A unique learning opportunity has rolled into the Brockway Area School District.
On Monday, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Mobile Agriculture Education Science Lab was open for its first day at Brockway Area Elementary School. It will be at the school all week.
“The ag lab is a science lab on wheels,” Pam Augustine, the ag lab teacher, told students in one of the classrooms visiting the lab Monday afternoon. “While you’re in here, you are scientists.”
Fourth grade teacher Dana Esposito was one of the teachers whose students experienced the lab.
“It gives them another avenue to learn about science, something hands-on, something practical,” she said.
“It’s just a great hands-on approach for kids to see what’s going on in agriculture because agriculture in Pennsylvania is still the number-one employer, and it’s getting bigger all the time, especially with all the genetic-modified seeds and food that we’re eating,” said district superintendent Dan Hawkins.
A high school student, Tanner Pearce, was helping out in the lab. He said that he liked helping the students learn.
Augustine said students were enjoying the lab.
“They just love it,” she said. “They’ve been great, they’ve been wonderful.”
She thought the students benefited from the experience.
“This is the way kids were meant to learn,” she said.
“Children were not meant to sit in a chair for six hours a day.”
“This is all hands-on, and it’s all based on farming,” she added.
In the morning, the students learned all about what goes into their pizza.
“Our entire pizza comes from a farm,” Augustine said.
Explaining the farming connection, she used a story to show that pizza sauce comes from tomatoes and mozzarella cheese is made from cow’s milk.
“This morning, we did ‘Little Red Hen’s Pizza,’” she said. “The kids all did an ingredient of the pizza, and when I would say the name of it during the story, they would hold it up and tell what it’s made out of.”
The hands-on activities gave the students the chance to do a variety of things, like churning their own butter.
They even learned how to make crayons.
“We melt down soy beans, add blue pigment, and make soybean crayons, and the kids take the crayons home with them,” Augustine said.
Her favorite activity was a “banana DNA” exercise, in which the students could see the banana DNA floating on top of a test tube.
“When the kids pick the test tube up, it looks like an iceberg floating there.”
The Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, a division of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB), brought the mobile ag lab to the school.