Senior capstone project provides students with interactive agricultural education
PYLESVILLE, Md. — This year Lynne Thomas took her passion for agriculture to new levels through her high school’s senior capstone project.
Thomas is a senior at North Harford High School in the Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Magnet Program.
Seniors in the program are challenged to complete a project that builds on their previous knowledge and encourages personal and career growth.
Thomas said she plans to go into a career in agricultural education, so her capstone project focused on the impact of agricultural lessons for elementary school kids.
Thomas said she has always been passionate about teaching, and particularly enjoyed leading hands-on activities.
As she began planning her project in sophomore year, she said she wanted to teach elementary school students as they “are the most influential because they’re so ready and eager to learn.”
Thomas said she wanted to provide these students with a holistic view of agriculture.
Using resources from the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, Thomas developed lessons on soybeans, baseball and agriculture, dairy, and nutrition, and adapt them to suit the needs of her project.
She also used MAEF’s environmental lesson plan in its original form.
Each of these lessons was taught to the class on a different day, with a test before and after the lesson to show how the students’ knowledge has grown.
“Even the kids at the rural schools, you’re still teaching them,” Thomas said. “You’re just teaching them new aspects.”
Through her tests before and after the lessons, she found most students’ scores jump from 40 percent to 100 percent after one lesson.
Thomas added that students seemed eager to “go home and teach their families, and the kids on their bus.”
Among the students’ favorite lessons included one involving making butter and a nutrition lesson in which students rub food items on paper, then use the hairdryer to evaporate water.
After the water has evaporated, what remains is fat, which teaches kids more about what’s in the foods they eat.
Thomas said she hopes the lessons show students how STEM relates to engineering in agriculture, how social studies relates to studying the past to come up with agricultural innovations and how writing skills like “Claim Evidence Reasoning” allow them to sum up all that they’ve learned to benefit someone else.
The real-world applications also better prepares them for tests in the future, she said.
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