Mobile science lab brings agriculture and science together

KINGSFORD — When you think of learning, you automatically assume it has to be held in the confines of a classroom, but one traveling science lab in the state is looking to change that stereotype.

Over the last two days, the mobile FARM Science Lab has been stationed at Kingsford Middle School, giving 4th and 5th grade students the opportunity to utilize knowledge they’ve gained within a classroom setting, and to explore more about agriculture.

“As a regional educator, and as a farmer, I have a passion for helping students to know where their food comes, and that they have an appreciation for that,” said regional educator, Marsha Wainio.

The 44ft. traveling lab, outfitted with 10 computer stations and a full media array, has already visited 74 schools around the state since its inception last year, but is currently visiting schools in the Upper Peninsula. Thirteen local schools will play host in the coming six weeks.

“Today, students are going to be learning about all of the products made from corn, and that corn is a renewable product – oil is not. By the end of their lesson they will have compared styrofoam peanuts to corn based peanuts, packing peanuts, and they will make plastic from corn.”

With the use of new technology and updated methods of teaching, lab staff is able to make sure kids are taking the reins of their own learning, rather than always sitting in lecture taking notes.

“We are also using the best practices for teaching students, and that’s to have them doing things – talking with their neighbors, having their hands going, and we as teachers are guiding them to their own learning,” continued Wainio.

In the future, FARM Science Labs hopes to add a second mobile facility, to reach out to more students, and bring the relationship between science and agriculture to young minds.