Tips for tying a farm visit in to STEM lessons

Date Posted: 18/06/2015

Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) has produced a booklet that gives teachers tips on how to tie a farm visit into STEM teaching back in the classroom.

Farm visits are not just for Early Years children. Contrary to popular belief there can be more to a school farm trip than tractor rides and lamb feeding.

That’s why the charity FACE was set up. The mission statement of Farming and Countryside Education is to educate children of all Key Stages on the countryside and environment.

On its website the charity explains that a farm visit can provide the following benefits to pupils…

  • The development of social skills.
  • An understanding of where food comes from.
  • Physical exercise.
  • Education on nutrition, animal welfare, sustainability and conservation.
  • An understanding of the natural environment.
  • Careers awareness.
  • An understanding of risk and risk management.

Recently, the charity has become even more specific, by releasing a resource booklet full of tips on ways to link a trip to a farm in to STEM lessons back in the classroom.

The material shows teachers how to use activities inspired by food, farms and farming to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Equipment is simple and cheap, but the results can be tied in to the Science curriculum, especially for Key Stages 2 and 3.

An example activity is…

Measuring the thermal properties of farmyard materials

Farm buildings have developed significantly over recent decades to ensure that animals can be kept warm, comfortable, dry, and disease free. There is a range of materials used on farms which have different thermal properties. This simple experiment will enable children to measure these properties in the classroom.

Resources

Wool, lollipop sticks (wood), straw; four tin cans (empty and clean), glue, four thermometers, a sheet for recording the results, kettle and water, masking tape.

Instructions

1. Ensure the tin cans are clean and have no sharp edges around the top. Cover the top rim only with masking tape if there are sharp edges.

2. Using glue, cover each of the tin cans with a different farm yard material so that you have the following: - wood - straw - wool - tin (bare can)

3. Line the cans on a tray and fill each to ¾ full with boiling water.

4. Put one thermometer in each of the cans and record the temperature on your record sheet.

5. Take another reading from each thermometer after ten minutes.

6. Repeat for one hour

7. Once all six recordings have been taken, the data can be used to rank the farm yard materials according to their thermal properties.

Finding a farm

Of course, it’s not always easy to find a farm that’s set up for school visits. But again, FACE has thought about this and created a website dedicated to helping teachers find local farms to visit.

The Countryside Classroom website www.countrysideclassroom.org.uk lists farms from all over the country that welcome school trips. The list features farms from the north to the south of the country and even lists farms accessible from inner city schools.

Deen City Farm in London is one of these. Established in 1978 it’s one of the capital’s oldest community run farms. Spread over five acres it’s free to enter and features a farm yard, riding school, café and shop.

Rice Lane City Farm is another. Situated in Liverpool, it covers 24 acres and hosts visits for all Key Stages. It offers insights into everything from woodland management to rare breeds.

To access the full booklet on ways to link a farm visit back to STEM lessons visit www.face-online.org.uk.

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