Some schools are taking a more organic approach to teaching and having the kids become students of soy. It’s amazing what these little beans can teach our young ones.
Only a few students tentatively raised their hands.
But they quickly changed their minds when Leath, museum education director at The Works, began holding up examples of their favorite foods — Oreos, Snickers bars, Pop Tarts and Lunchables — all made with soybeans.
After holding up a big bag of soybeans to show students what they look like when they are harvested, Leath lead them to a soybean field so the kids could see what they look like in their pods.
For some of the kids, it was the first time they had seen a soybean up close, or thought about all the things the beans are used for, including food, fuel, beauty products and agricultural goods.
That was the goal of Cool Beans: It’s Soyence, an educational program held this week at Devine Farms in Hebron.
Organized by The Works, Newark City Schools and the Ohio Soybean Council, Cool Beans gave students the opportunity to explore the farm and learn about soybeans, as well as some of the science used in agriculture, said Janice LoRaso, assistant director at The Works.
“We wanted to show the students different ways to use science, technology, engineering and math through a hands on trip to a farm,” she said.
The Works received a grant from the Ohio Soybean Council and created the program with help from the council and Newark City Schools, LoRaso said.
The museum decided to focus on Newark’s sixth-grade classes because the activities matched up with their science and math curriculum, she said.
Wilson Middle school students explored the farm Tuesday, Heritage students spent the day there today and Liberty students were set to arrive Thursday for the last day of the program.
Each day, the students were divided into groups and participated in five activities.
While some got to take a hay ride and check out Devine Farms’ corn maze, others learned how to use hula-hoops and math equations to figure out the farm’s soybean yield.
They also made their own soy-based lip balm, used soy degreaser to clean a tractor and used soybean oil to power toy boats in a baby pool.
In small teams, they also had to construct an egg catcher using only eight pieces of paper and 50 centimeters of tape to learn about the problem solving and engineering skills needed in farming.
Throughout the day, they talked about how important soybeans are to Ohio’s economy, said Jeanne Gogolski, an education consultant for the Ohio Soybean Council.
Ohio is usually ranked fifth or sixth in U.S. soybean production every year, Gogolski said.
“It’s estimated that $8 billion worth of soybeans are grown in Ohio,” she said. “But some kids can’t identify them, much less talk about what they are used in. I think as the kids go around they will understand the value of the crop.”
In addition to teaching the students about a key aspect of Ohio’s economy, Cool Beans also pairs well with The Work’s Green Revolution, a yearlong project to educate county residents about sustainability and taking care of the environment, LoRaso said.