Film studies how STEM learning ties in to ag
During her two years as a coordinator of the Maryland Envirothon, it became more and more clear to independent filmmaker Cheryle Franceschi that more students needed this kind of experience.
“I saw that this type of education really wasn’t being promoted like advance placement and other programs,” she said.
That experience she said was the kernel that eventually grew into “Conservation Kids: A Green STEM Documentary,” a 30-minute film exploring the connection of learning in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — and experiential learning in the natural world. For Franceschi, a big chunk of that is agriculture.
“It’s tied together. That’s my thing,” she said. “You can’t separate it.”
The film highlights real-world events using STEM principles to explain the connection between Mother Nature and her agricultural lands, waters, parks, soils and wildlife habitats.
Those examples include the Envirothon, National FFA Convention, outdoor learning at a Pennsylvania charter school, and various works done by the Natural Resources Conservation District.
“We have to continue to expose parents and children that are not actively engaged in agriculture to what’s going on in agriculture but also what farmers are doing to conserve the soil conserve the land and make sure it’s available to future generations,” Dr. Terron Hillsman, state conservationalist for NRCS Maryland claims in the film.
It also spotlights natural learning activities at Robinson Nature Center in Howard County and a group of Pennsylvania students’ efforts to designate the Eastern Hellbender salamander the state amphibian raising awareness for conservation of the species.
The film premiered at the annual convention of the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education in February and was an official selection at the Germinate International Film Fest hosted by Ohio State University Extension. It can be viewed online at https://www.pbs.org/video/conservation-kids-a-green-stem-documentary-c6miy5/.
It also is now streaming on 10 Public Broadcasting Stations including stations in Philadelphia, New York and Indiana and plays in the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation’s agriculture showcase trailer.
Franceschi also showed the film at the Montgomery County Soil Conservation District banquet last week.
Franceschi said while she is in talks with more PBS stations to show the documentary, it was last week added to the schedule of the Maryland STEM Festival, a month-long celebration with hundreds of events at multiple sites with a showing on Oct. 19 at Bowie State University.
Franceshi said she will continue to promote the film to more stations, and work to raise the money to meet requirements for stations to broadcast it on television.
“I can’t let it not be shown,” she said. “It’s tapped on something and gotten a lot of press and I can’t let it go by.”
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