Forty Gippsland primary school students enjoyed an immersive learning experience last week (Thursday 31 May), thanks to the GippyAg program, managed by Food & Fibre Gippsland and CQ University Australia.
SHOWING THE NEXT GENERATION WHAT A CAREER IN FOOD & FIBRE COULD BE
Grade 3 and 4 students at Saint Mary’s Primary School at Newborough tapped into two modules from the program that has been specifically designed to provide school children of all ages with a taste of the current and emerging technologies used in the agricultural industry.
GippyAg is headed by up Dr Amy Cosby, a researcher and practitioner who is passionate about working with educators and industry professionals to develop innovative programs to increase the skills and knowledge of teachers and students in agri-tech.
"Sweet Science" and "Fit Bits for Cows", two modules developed as part of the project, were a big hit with the eight and nine year olds.
“The interactive nature of the content certainly got young minds thinking about how science and technology can and is being used across many different aspects of farming and production in the region’s $7-billion food and fibre sector “Dr Cosby said.
The Fit Bits for Cows saw the children divided into groups, with four playing the role of cows and wearing the accelerometers, one taking on the actions of a wild dog chasing the herd, and the balance of the group were the farmers, watching the data stream from the “animal’s movements” onto iPads from the accelerometers.
Under Dr Cosby’s directions to the “cows” to be chewing grass, walking around, laying down, running in circles and sleeping, the “farmers” were able to see how the data changed for each of the different movements.
From this, the children were able to easily understand how this sort of technology would be helpful to a farmer to monitor cattle or sheep activity on large tracts of land and improve animal welfare.
In the sweet science lab, Agri-Tech Education Officer Brodie McGee encouraged students to use their senses of sight, smell and taste as well as tap into the science of testing for sweetness in fruit.
“I was delighted to see how engaged the students were – they really loved the scientific processes we showed them when it comes to the testing of different fruits and they were all able to get a better understanding of the difference between naturally occurring sugars in fruit and processed sugars in food” he said.
Saint Mary’s teacher Jasmin Prestidge says with investigating food & fibre technology being part of the curriculum this term, it was great to discover the GippyAg program.
“The activities were exactly what we needed, and it was fantastic to see all of the students so engaged in learning from Amy and Brodie “she said.
GippyAg has been funded through the Victorian Government Regional Skills Fund, and Food & Fibre Gippsland Interim CEO, Dr Nicola Watts believes that programs like this play an important role in the long term growth goals and future sustainability of the sector.
“As the peak industry body, we innovate and engage with education and vocational partners to expand and explore opportunities that can help find a pathway for young Gippslanders to stay in the region if they want to - and contribute to the ongoing growth of the Food & Fibre sector with their fresh ideas and thinking, and deep grasp of technology “ she said.
“It’s really encouraging to see such enthusiasm and interest in a young group – who knows – today’s activity may have planted a seed that grows into a successful and satisfying career in agribusiness!” Dr Watts concluded.
Schools and educators are encouraged to reach out to the GippyAg program if they would like to have the program come to their school. There are five modules to choose from including:
- Sweet Science
- Meat Grading and Tasting
- Fit Bits for Cows
- Pitch an Idea to a Producer
- Digital Farm Mapping and Satellite Imagery
The modules cover a wide range of key learning areas such as mathematics, science, design and technology, home economics, visual communication design, English, digital technologies and agriculture.
The length and content of all modules can be adjusted, according to the year level, age and class size with all equipment supplied, right down to the dress up cow and wild dog head masks !