St. Helena students get hands-on learning at Ag and Science Week

News Release Distributed 10/25/10

GREENSBURG, La – Students had the hands-on experience of touching a goat, a horse or a cow at St. Helena Parish Central Elementary School during Ag and Science Week the week of Oct. 18.

The school celebrated Ag and Science Week to let the students see some of the concepts they have been studying in class.

Even though the school is located in a rural parish, some of the students don’t have much contact with animals or knowledge of where their food comes from, said Angela Myles, LSU and Southern University AgCenter agent.

“When the principal asked me to do this, I knew it would be a good opportunity to bring in Southern University and LSU AgCenter faculty to give these students a valuable learning experience,” Myles said.

The four-day event featured live animals, ATV safety training and interactive learning about plants and the environment.

“The events were held on Tuesday through Friday. On Tuesday, the students learned about magnets, electricity, energy and chemicals. Wednesday was livestock day, and the students were allowed to touch goats, chickens, horses, rabbits and other animals. On Thursday, they learned about character education, healthy lifestyles and tobacco-free living,” Myles said.

On the final day, the students learned about wetlands and outdoor skills.

“A few of the big events on the final day were the ATV safety training and gun and archery safety,” she said. “The students got a chance to shoot the bow and arrows, so this was a big hit.”

“We realize that students need to be motivated to learn,” said Arlene Kennedy, the school’s principal.

“Sometimes I think we forget how we need to see, hear and touch in the learning process,” Kennedy said. “It’s even more so for children.”

In the classroom, the children see and hear the information being taught, but it always better to add the “doing” part, according to Kennedy.

One fourth-grade student said the event helped him to get over his fear of animals.

“I was afraid of goats,” he said. “But since I touched it, I’m not afraid anymore.”

More than 190 students from kindergarten to fourth grade took part in the activities that will teach them more about the things they have been studying in class, Myles said.

“A lecture for 30 or 60 minutes is not going to get it, but taking time to work intensively for 10 to 15 minutes – actively engage yourself for 10 to 15 minutes, review through engagement and conversation 10 to 15 minutes – and you’ve built a well-rounded child,” Kennedy said.

One of the presentations showed how humans get energy from the sun. The students were shown how a meter can be used to show the amount of energy the sun provides to plants, which is made available to humans.

“I really learned something from this exercise myself,” Kennedy said. “I knew the sun provided the energy, but I didn’t know there was an instrument that could actually measure the amount of energy in the fruit or vegetable that is provided to us.”

The children may not remember all that was said about energy, but Kennedy said she believes they will remember for a long time to come how the probe stuck in an apple shows how much energy it has.

If the school calls next year, Myles said, she would love to make the event even bigger and better.

Johnny Morgan

1/4/2011 1:13:18 AM
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