Tribune Recorder Leader

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Farm Science in the Classroom

By: Wm. Michael Dixon
Tribune Recorder Leader

SANDUSKY – Fifth-graders at Sandusky Elementary School dove into the world of farm science last Thursday, thanks to a visit from the Sanilac County Farm Bureau’s mobile outreach van. Thursday’s program focused on water, a vital resource for both farmers and the community. Ms. Barnum’s fifth grade class opened their doors for us to come in and see how the students were learning hands-on about how farmers use science to improve the health of their crops and the ecosystems they inhabit.
Students learned about the role of water hydrologists, scientists who study the movement and distribution of water, and the concept of watersheds, areas where water drains into a common body like a river or lake. A hands-on activity using crumpled paper helped visualize how pollutants can move through a watershed.

The Sandusky Elementary fifth graders were treated to a departure from the norm this past Wednesday and Thursday, as the Farm Bureau Farm Science Mobile Outreach Van paid a visit to the school to give the students a hands on look at how science can be used to manage a farm. Thursday’s presentation centered on hydrology, the watershed, pollution control, and meeting regulations for PPM.

The class then explored strategies farmers use to protect waterways, such as filter strips to trap runoff, efficient irrigation systems, and drip feeders that deliver water directly to plant roots. The class also learned of the complex concepts of application rate and parts per million (ppm), learning how even small amounts of pollutants can impact water quality. A demonstration using seven “wells” with decreasing levels of pollution brought this idea to life. The students started with a 1/10 (10,000 ppm) pollution level and by dilution reduced the pollutant’s concentration to 1/10,000,000 (or .1 ppm).
The Farm Bureau’s outreach van is available to visit schools throughout Sanilac County upon request, providing valuable educational opportunities that bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world agriculture.

Ms. Barnum’s class learned all about how water shapes our land and moves pollution around the watershed.

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