Georgia elementary classes in third through fifth grades are being challenged to put their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to work to explore the real-world issue that farmers face of maintaining soil health. Elementary teachers and their students may enter the Soil Health Explorers STEM Challenge competition through May 14 for the chance to win a prize package totaling $350 for their class. The top grade-winner from the third, fourth and fifth-grade entries will win a prize package. The winners will be announced via a Zoom presentation on May 21.
The Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD), a non-profit organization that promotes the conservation of natural resources, is sponsoring the statewide competition, which is being coordinated by the Georgia Ag Experience (GAE) and Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA).
Teachers interested in participating in the Soil Health Explorers STEM Challenge may visit www.gfb.ag/stemchallenge for more information and to register for the program. Once teachers register their class, they will receive instant access to a digital resource toolkit that equips the class for participating in the soil health stem challenge.
“The Georgia Association of Conservation Districts is excited to partner with the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture on its first statewide STEM Challenge,” said GACD Executive Director Katie Sponberger. “This challenge, which focuses on soil and water conservation, will help students understand and appreciate Georgia’s vibrant and diverse natural resources and learn how to conserve those resources for future generations.”
Each participating class is being asked to answer the question, “How can we improve soil biodiversity and overall soil health?”
The STEM challenge asks participating classes to: 1) Develop an initial report that examines a plot of land where they will study the soil and perform a series of tests on the soil to determine the land’s current soil health status. 2) Reach out to their local Farm Bureau office, Natural Resources Conservation Service office and/or UGA Extension office for assistance or speakers to discuss soil health with their class. 3) Create a presentation on how to improve their soil and understand the real-world impact for their plot of land. Class presentations must be uploaded to the challenge portal for judging before May 14.
“We developed the STEM challenge as a way to connect elementary students to Georgia agriculture. Every year students will have a new opportunity to solve a real-world ag problem with a different community partner,” said GFA Executive Director Lily Baucom.
The Georgia Ag Experience/Georgia Foundation for Agriculture STEM Challenge is designed to be a bi-annual competition with a spring and fall contest. The GACD is the 2021 challenge sponsor.
The purpose of the challenge is to encourage elementary teachers and students in grades 3-5 to explore aspects of Georgia agriculture by applying their STEM skills to solve real-world problems that farmers face in producing our food and fiber.