Mobile science lab for southwest Pa. touts agriculture

SALEM, Ohio — Two western Pennsylvania Farm Bureau groups have raised more than $100,000 to purchase a new Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab.

The Armstrong County and Beaver/Lawrence County Farm Bureaus have been raising funds for the lab since May and recently received a $50,000 grant from Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections to put them over the top.

Three other mobile science labs are already available in central and southeast Pennsylvania. The newest lab, which will be available for the 2008-2009 school year, will serve Armstrong, Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mercer and Westmoreland counties.

Students

The lab is aimed at students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Its curriculum meets state standards for science, technology, environmental and ecology classes.

The lab will accommodate six 50-minute classes per day and comes fully staffed with specific lessons for each grade level.

“This lab is a very visual lab and it’s hands-on,” said Valerie Huston, committee chair for the Armstrong County Farm Bureau.

Lab experiments include things like making glue from milk, making plastic from corn and making crayons from soybeans.

“It’s a really, really eye-opening experience for the students, the teachers and the parents,” Huston said.

In addition, the lab teaches children where food comes from, while highlighting conservation and nutrition.

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How it works

The 40-foot trailer will contain 12 work stations. Students will work in groups of two or three to solve problems by forming a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, collecting data and drawing conclusions.

Huston said it’s important for young children to learn these things and begin understanding the depth of agriculture. In fact, that’s the reason the Farm Bureaus joined together to raise money for this project.

“Ag and education and very, very important subjects to me,” Huston said.
Pitching in. She added that businesses, local government and other organizations of all types made donations for the mobile lab to be built. It’s something that was important across the board.

“It’s not just one particular group of people, it’s everybody,” Huston said.

The newest lab is currently under construction and will be available during the upcoming school years and throughout the summer for fairs and festivals.

(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

About the Author

Former reporter Janelle Skrinjar wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2005 to 2009. More Stories by Janelle Skrinjar

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