By Jennifer Coroneos
The 4-H Growing with Grains event held on May 22nd at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park was a huge success. Third graders from Scotts Branch Elementary School came out to have a good time and learn all about grains; corn, wheat, soybeans, and barley. Growing with Grains blends nutrition education and agriculture literacy in a new and exciting way. Each program focuses on materials to reach a greater understanding of health benefits while exploring whole grain production, manufacturing, processing and utilization. The hands-on, practical lessons demonstrate an innovative curriculum that simultaneously creates collaborations and long term relationships with administrators and teachers in public and private schools, as well as local grain utilization boards. Youth visit seven program stations to complete a “passport” for the day. The seven stations include; Animals Enjoying Grain, Corn Products/ Uses, Ag Literacy, Grain Nutrition, Cooking with Grains, Grains Scavenger Hunter, and Grain science. The hands-on approach used at each station teaches them something new and exciting about grains without having to be in a classroom setting. Did you know that “Farmers in America started growing soybeans to feed their livestock around 1765, even before the Declaration of Independence was signed?”
One of the stations youth enjoy the most is the Cooking with Grains. At this station they are able to make pizza using a whole grain English muffin as the crust and adding healthy toppings. They sure smelled good. Another favorite is the Animals Enjoying Grain. Grains are very important to the livestock industry. At this station students were able to see and pet a goat while learning about what kinds of grains the animal eats and how important it is to feed animals the right type and amount of grain.
On May 22nd I had the opportunity to teach a lesson on Corn Products and Uses. At this station the Scotts Branch third grade class had the opportunity to learn about foods that actually contain corn products as an ingredient such as sodas, cereals, Oreo cookies, ketchup, and so much more. Most students were surprised when we showed them that most food contains some sort of corn byproduct. The class was able to label the parts of the corn plant while discussing the parts role in the life cycle of the plant. They learned the environmental impact of a packing peanut made from corn starch vs. a packing peanut made from Styrofoam using a hands-on approach. After giving each student a cup of warm water and a packing peanut made from corn starch, they were able to put the packing peanut in the water and stir it around watching it dissolve. This project showed them that by using organic material to make the packing peanut we are helping the environment.
I think that at the end of the day all the students had a really good time and they learned a lot. I know I learned a lot from this program. “Soybeans, corn and wheat are the three major field crops grown by modern American Farmers today.” With this program Baltimore County 4-H is able to educate more youth about agriculture then we ever thought. So far the Ag center has served nearly 400 Baltimore County Public School 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders with this program!!!
I’m excited to share some pictures from the session with Scotts Branch Elementary School!