Bethany Sheridan visited North Union Elementary School in Richwood in January and February. Students in first and third grade classrooms learned about germination and made soybean necklaces. Sheridan was impressed with the students’ inquisitiveness. “As a student teacher pursuing licensure in secondary level education, I was nervous to work with elementary students as I did not want to overwhelm them. However, they made my job easy when they asked questions relating not only to soybeans but other crops such as cocoa beans. This was a great opportunity to explain in layman’s terms how soil and climate affect what plants grow in different places.” Thanks to the joint efforts of the Ohio Soybean Council, Battelle, and GrowNextGen, students were able to learn about the versatility of soybeans and the growth stages of plants while participating in a hands-on activity. By providing an opportunity to make connections with youth, these sponsors help to bridge the gap between producers and consumers while advocating for the agriculture industry.
Rebecca Bash presented at MakerX Expo in February, an event that attracted both kids and adults from all around the state of Ohio. The event, focusing on technology, robotics, and their applications, took place in the Ohio Expo Center’s Lausche Building. At the GrowNextGen booth, attendees learned about Ohio’s poultry production through the construction of an egg catcher. Participants used critical thinking to ensure the eggs landed safely in their catcher. Many children challenged their parents, grandparents, or friends to create a better egg catcher. Bash said, “Through the event, I was able to grow my personal communication skills and connect people with information about GrowNextGen and agriculture. I would like to thank the sponsors of the MakerX Expo for allowing us to advocate for agriculture in a diverse environment.”
In March, Ryan Patton visited Cedarville Cliff High School to meet with Ms. Sarah Landis and her agriscience classes. Patton taught three lessons which involved constructing egg catchers, creating soy ink, and identifying various agricultural careers. The students learned about the many uses of soybeans. Patton said, “I would like to thank the Ohio Soybean Council for sponsoring the GrowNextGen program and Ms. Landis for inviting me to participate in this event.”
Also in March, various STEM businesses in the Columbus metropolitan area attended STEMfest at The Works in Newark, Ohio, in order to educate the general public and students about what STEM is—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Attendees learned how farmers can use smartphones and other technology to control equipment in fields. Robots can be programmed to detect and kill weeds. Ambassador Audrey Heitzman from the Ohio State University demonstrated how even the smallest robot can detect a change of color in a marker line and change directions based on that. Ozobots moved across a mock corn field of corn with ‘weeds’ in it. Attendees watched as the Ozobot detected each weed, circled it, counted it, and continued on. Heitzman said, “This event really helped me see how important engineering and robotics can be in such a complex field like agriculture. Thanks to the Ohio Soybean Council for allowing us to attend such a wonderful opportunity!”