The workshop shows teachers how farmers use science, drones

By Julie Tomascik
Editor

Texas high school science teachers learned about the science behind drone technology and its role in agriculture through a new workshop.

The Field of the Future: Drone Science in Agriculture workshop was organized by the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) and the National Ag in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA) on April 9-10 in Bryan.

“The aim of the workshop was to give high school science teachers the opportunity to work with drone experts and other scientists using technology and other unique methods to learn more about agriculture,” said Jordan Bartels, TFB’s assistant director of education, Outreach. “The Farm Bureau, NAITCO and USDA partners wanted to provide experience and information to help teachers as they work to integrate agriculture into their classrooms.”

Twenty teachers attended the practical workshop, and each received a free MAVIC-MINI II drone and lesson aids.

Participants learned how to operate a drone and how to help farmers from an agricultural engineer in the USDA Air Application Technology Research Unit.

They also learned how drones are used in research projects and problem-based learning. This session was led by a science teacher who uses drones with his students to study the watershed around the school, looking for precise sources of pollution and suggesting possible solutions.

“During the workshop, teachers learned, among other things, how drones are currently used in agriculture to observe crops, livestock and land,” Bartels said. “The drones they got are capable of capturing images that can be used to observe plants and more.”

Since the workshop, teachers have posted pictures of their students using drones on Earth Day to observe species and look for sources of pollution around school campuses.

Others, like Laurie Heron-Beaulieu who teaches at Magnolia High School, use lessons learned and concepts to raise awareness of agriculture.

“I learned something from each presenter. “Everything they learned, they can use in their physics classroom,” he told Heron-Beaulieu. “I’ve been to a lot of workshops, but this was one of the few that I can say is adaptable to any area and is something I can use right away.”

Magnolia High School has about 2,000 students, and Heron-Beaulieu believes that what she learned in the workshop can be applied to classroom activities for any of those students.

“I can use what I learned in the workshop for my children in AP physics and for our students who have special needs,” she said. “Many of my students want to be engineers, but they don’t know what kind of engineer. I’m trying to get them to go from petroleum engineer to agricultural engineer, and some of the information I’ve learned can help with that. There is a wide variety of positions in agriculture for which many of them could be well suited. ”

TFB believes in reviving agriculture in classrooms across the state to increase agricultural literacy and student awareness in all grades.

“Simply put, agriculture is a science,” Bartels said. “Everything in agriculture is ultimately based on scientific concepts and research, so it’s imperative that we help students make those connections as they explore the world around them in and out of school.”

This project is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture USDA, AFRI Professional Development for the priority area of ​​agricultural literacy.

For more information on TFB educational opportunities and other Ag in the Classroom activities and resources, visit texasfarmbureau.org/aitc.

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