Many Thanks to our Area Farmers
October 17, 2016
Dear Princeton Public Schools Community,
We have an awesome partnership in our district, which you may not realize. Our area farmers support us in many ways, and I would like you to know about how their support is turning into wonderful programs for our students.
The first part of this story is the mere volume of farmers who are supporting us. Forty-two farmers! These people nominated our schools for the Monsanto grant the past three years, and we were awarded each year! Here are their names:
What are the programs that benefited by our farmers’ recommendations? There are three projects that I will describe.
The Science of Food Processes
Our high school offers a course called Food Chemistry, which fulfills the chemistry science academic standard. This course helps students to realize the relevance of food preparation and chemistry. The grant allowed the district to purchase LabMasters and ChromeBooks, to innovatively enhance the learning students are receiving in the Food Chemistry class. Students are now able to easily graph their data, as they research the chemistry components of food. It allows students to hypothesize and gain current, relevant information that is not often in textbooks. Chemistry is a required course for all students prior to graduation, and this course, with the help of these resources, gives students the opportunity to learn the course content in a hands-on learning environment.
Enhancing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics)--Middle School
The middle school was given a grant to assist the STEAM efforts. Specifically, the goal was to connect multiple classes to the community. Students worked in groups, in the STEM class, which is required for every eighth grader. In teams, the students worked on 21st Century skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, and analyzing. To increase the quality of the experience, students were able to use technologies, which were funded by the grant. Equipment purchased included a Smart Board, a 3D printer, and four laptops.
Students determined needs in the community, identified potential clients, and contacted the businesses with whom they would like to collaborate. Then a design process began. Every eighth grader learned basic drawing skills, using the CAD program. Students then met with their clients to get feedback. Renovation of the design ensured, and detailed design proceeded. Students had a meeting with their class to share ideas and concepts. Next, budget proposals were made up. Finally, the students built and tested their designs. This continued, including redesign until the final product was finished. Once completed, marketing plans were written, and a Project Fair was implemented.
Imagine the work as a result of this process, using the technologies from the grant! Previously, students used materials such as toothpicks, cardboard, and paper and pencil for the projects. Far superior products were designed, thanks to the new equipment.
Princeton 21st Century Learning Makerspace--High School
The high school was awarded a grant that helped to create an environment for students to work with real tools and technology, in the implementation of a Makerspace. A Makerspace is a “do it yourself” place where students and adults come together to explore science, technology, art, math, engineering and more. This environment provides an area for project-driven, self-directed learning, nurturing the inventor in students.
Specifically, equipment was purchased to put in our new, referendum-supported Fabrication Laboratory. This lab is an integrated lab. Teachers sign up for space in the lab. It is not dedicated to one particular course. Teachers are encouraged to develop units of study in which “making” is the goal.
Specific outcomes from the use of this laboratory will be to improve digital literacy skills, while working in groups, which will build the community’s workforce capacity. Being competitive in the labor market is the ultimate outcome.
Besides the Monsanto grant, our local farmers contribute greatly to our students by allowing field trips to the farm and ever-present support to our FFA. It seems that they are constantly looking for ways to assist us, which helps every students to learn the value of farms being important in our community. Students are introduced to agriculture careers. Farmers aid us in many projects and competitions, giving students a real life view of the significance of farming.
As our students prepare for the 21st Century and becoming the world’s best workforce, we are grateful to the support of our community, in particular our local farmers, to help to catapult learning environments which heighten the quality of the students’ experience. Thank you to our local farmers! We appreciate that you have championed our district’s students, by nominating us.
Julia A. Espe, Superintendent of Princeton Public Schools