Ag News

GFA, GACD announce fall STEM Challenge winners

by Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Dec 21, 2022 at 0:00 AM

By Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau

Georgia elementary students learned how to improve gardening spaces by conserving water as they put their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to work this fall while competing in the fourth Georgia Ag Experience STEM Challenge. The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA) coordinated the challenge in partnership with the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD).

The “Be In The Know, Conserve H20” STEM Challenge asked students how gardening spaces can be improved while using water conservation practices. The STEM Challenge was open to third through fifth-grade classes statewide with a winner picked for each grade. Over 60 classes registered for the challenge.

Congratulations to Roopville Elementary's “3rd Grade Quest,” in Carroll County for winning the third-grade prize! The “Hill City Hawks” at Hill City Elementary in Pickens County won the fourth-grade prize. The fifth-grade winners were “Ms. Pryor’s Creative Geniuses” at Harper Elementary School in Clayton County.

“The Georgia Association of Conservation Districts is excited to partner with the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture on the 2022 Fall STEM Challenge,” said GACD Executive Director Katie Sponberger. “This challenge, which focused on water conservation, helped students understand water as a valuable and precious resource.”

Roopville Elementary School’s “3rd Grade Quest,” taught by Jennifer Carroll in Carroll County, displayed their knowledge of the water cycle and impressed the judges with their indoor hydroponic garden used to start plants later transplanted to an outdoor garden. The judges said this showed versatility and enthusiasm. The judges also noted the team paid attention to details and performed in depth research. Visit to view the Roopville Elementary team’s presentation.

In the fourth-grade category, Hill City Elementary’s “Hill City Hawks,” taught by Krista Shipman in Pickens County, won by putting their ideas into action. The team used condensation from the school’s air conditioning unit and took the time to contact their H-VAC technician for help installing piping and a water tank to collect water from the unit to improve the gardening space. You can see Hill City Elementary’s video at .

The fifth-grade winners were Felicia Pryor's “Creative Geniuses” at Harper Elementary in Clayton County. The judges were impressed with the extra time the students spent highlighting vocabulary words that were new to them so they could fully understand water conservation and the water cycle. The team took that knowledge and created a new school garden with a handmade drip irrigation system. The judges noted, “This truly was genius!”  Visit to watch the Harper Elementary team’s video.

“The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture congratulates our three grade winners,” said Virginia Fulwood, GFA educational programs assistant. “It’s such a pleasure for the foundation to coordinate a contest that connects students with agriculture as they utilize their STEM skills.”

Teachers of each winning class received a $350 total prize package.

 “The three winning teams’ projects stood out for their creative irrigation designs, research and putting their knowledge to use, along with their unique presentations,” said Hannah Hall, GFA educational programs assistant. “These students did amazing work, and their teachers and parents should be proud of them.”

Each class that participated in the STEM Challenge was asked to answer the question, “How can we improve gardening spaces while using water conservation practices?”

The challenge required participating classes to: 1) Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to demonstrate the water cycle. 2) Plan and carry out their investigations to observe the flow of energy in water as it changes states from solid (ice) to liquid (water) to gas (water vapor) and changes from gas to liquid to solid.  3) Develop models to illustrate multiple pathways water may take during the water cycle (evaporation, condensation, and precipitation). 4) Create a video showcasing their garden areas and what they learned about conserving water.

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 2022 challenge partner. The STEM Challenge for spring 2023 will be announced in late winter. Look for details then about the challenge at

The purpose of the GAE STEM 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. It is the only ag-focused STEM challenge for elementary students in Georgia.

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