Rob Isner works at George Washington Carver STEM Elementary School in Cleveland as Program Manager for 4-H Youth Development. His position is part of the “Agriscience in the City” program created in 2014 to promote learning about agriculture and agriscience careers in Ohio. This program has been operating in Cleveland and Cincinnati as a partnership between the Ohio State University Extension and Cleveland and Cincinnati public school districts, with hope for future expansion. In the program students are encouraged through active learning to take an interest in STEM content and to explore potential careers in agriscience.
Isner is in the elementary school full time, seeing each kindergarten through grade 6 class once a week to work on STEM- and agriscience-related content. “This is all hands-on, dirty kinds of stuff,” Isner said. Recently his classes made paint from scratch using natural pigments and egg yolks, as did George Washington Carver himself. They also have a vermicomposting area and do various agricultural activities there, a natural fit with Isner’s background of working at teaching farms.
Isner recently attended a ChickQuest workshop held in his area. Although he’s hatched eggs before with pre-kindergarten through 8th grade classes, he wanted to support teachers from his building attending the workshop. “I benefited from going through the ChickQuest materials and learning about the different activities,” Isner said. He will set up an incubator in his science lab and he also has a raised pen to display the chicks once they have hatched. This will provide students with a longer time period to enjoy and learn about the chicks.