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Fall 2016 Bee Line Newsletter
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Teachers Use AITC Classroom Grants to Fund Agriculture Projects
In 2015, Utah Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) introduced a classroom grant program. Teachers proposed projects that would engage students in the study of agriculture while meeting core standard objectives. Three 2015 grant awardees created inspiring agricultural projects to help their students better understand life cycles in plants and animals. ​

Sandra Zakowski, a first-grade teacher at Bountiful Elementary, wanted to help her students better understand the importance of plants and animals used to produce food, fiber, and energy. As a part of her “Bringing Agriculture to Life!” project, Sandra’s class visited Pack’s Pumpkin Patch where they discussed the life cycle of pumpkins with a local farmer. They also visited Red Butte Garden and learned about plant life cycles from local gardeners. Students used this information to sprout their own mini gardens in their classroom grow lab. Then they compared and contrasted the effects of sunlight and fluorescent light on plant development in their mini gardens. In addition to plants, Sandra’s first graders also observed firsthand the life cycles of brine shrimp, butterflies, earthworms, frogs, and chickens in their classroom. “The tiniest change in the life cycle process for our classroom creatures not only sparked interest, but caused squeals of excitement,” describes Sandra. At the conclusion of the unit, the first graders and their families enjoyed a Garden Salad Picnic in the Park. During this event, they were able to sample many of the fruits and vegetables that are grown in Utah gardens, which, as Sandra explains, “helped them further understand the importance of local agriculture in our food industry.”
 
Oakridge Elementary teacher Sheryl White took her first graders on a field trip to Thanksgiving Point as part of her project, “Pumpkins…From Farm to Soil.” During their tour of farm country, Sheryl’s students learned about the life cycles of the animals and plants there. They were able to pick a pumpkin from the farm to bring back to their classroom. The class weighed, measured, and carved the pumpkin and then ate some of its seeds, saving the rest to plant in the spring. Sheryl kept the pumpkin in her classroom to allow the students the opportunity to observe the process of decomposition. The students buried the  pumpkin outside along with a plastic  bottle and metal can. In the spring, the  class dug them up to discover that the  pumpkin had completely decomposed  and that the bottle and can remained intact. Sheryl’s class also used the AITC activity Farming in a Glove to observe the germination of different types of seeds. “These activities really helped the children understand how farmers work with the life cycles of plants to harvest a crop,” describes Sheryl.
 
Mapleton Elementary second-grade teacher Katie Barth’s project, “I’m a Survivor: Life Cycles of an Organism,” was created to engage students in the study of plant and animal life cycles. Her project involved classroom gardening, hatching chicks, a farm tour, and a Utah crop and livestock research project. The second graders set up a seed experiment to test how different environmental factors, such as soil, water, and light, affect plant growth. AITC’s Farming in a Glove activity allowed the students to observe seed germination. Katie’s students studied the life cycles of domesticated animals commonly raised in Utah before hatching chicks in their classroom. The chicks stayed in the classroom for about two weeks while students made journal entries about their growth. The class attended Farm Field Days at Harward Farms where they learned about beekeeping, growing tomatoes and fruit trees, and healthy eating. They also visited baby animals and learned the importance of proper hand washing to prevent germs from spreading. As a culminating activity, each student chose a specific Utah crop or farm animal to research. The students then created posters and presented what they had learned to the class. Katie observes, “Throughout the unit, students had to care for their own plants and help care for the hatched chicks. All the teachers were impressed with the level of concern students displayed to help the plants and animals grow. The students grew in their ability to recognize consequences of their own actions in terms of caring for the growth of another organism.”
 
2016 AITC Classroom Grant applications are now available. Applications are due by September 30, 2016.
 
Grant Opportunities
2016 AITC Classroom Grants
TSC School Garden Grant Program

CHS Classroom Grants
Featured Lesson Plan

In the lesson Terrariums: A Look at the Living and Nonliving World, students observe the interactions between living plants and other living and nonliving things by creating a small terrarium environment in a
2-liter bottle. Similarities between terrarium environments and farm environments are also discussed.
Classroom Resources
The Utah Garden Planner bulletin board, crop strips, crop cards, and activity instructions will help you keep your school garden on track all year long.
In the book Teaching in Nature's Classroom: Core Principles of Garden-based Education, Nathan Larson shares his philosophy of teaching in the garden. 
The Seeds for Terrariums kit contains a variety of crop seeds for planting in terrariums. Seed varieties include wheat, soybeans, popcorn, and bean seeds.
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