STEM Event at Easter Rhynd

A new initiative developed by the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) in conjunction with Education Scotland held its first knowledge transfer day here at the weekend.

   It was a first for us too, and an insight into how agriculture might fit into the new curriculum in Scottish schools.

Finlay with the teachers at Easter Rhynd

  Seven teachers, mostly maths but also one science teacher at national 5 level turned up and the aim of the event was to provide an insight into precision farming, generate data sets for use in school and understand the links between Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and agriculture.

   Joanne Oliver from Education Scotland explained that the new curriculum in Scottish schools requires more outdoor learning and sustainable development for pupils and said, "Using real life data from agriculture in the classroom provides a glimpse into a complex story. We want learners to look behind the scenes by organising, representing and analysing the data."

   Sara Smith, Learning and Development Co-ordinator for RHET, who organised the day said, "This is the first on-farm event for teachers we have held with the aim being to provide ideas and activities which can be used within school settings to enhance learning."

Even in pouring rain the teachers were enthusiastic about digging for worms

   Unfortunately it was  dreadful day - dull, wet and miserable, but following an introduction and tour of the farm by Finlay, the teachers gamely got their spades out and took part in a soils and worms probability survey with the help of Amy Styles from Open Air Laboratories (OPAL).

   After that they came back into the workshop (still cold but at least it was dry) where Finlay and Aiden Monaghan from SOYL Precision Farming explained the science behind mapping and variable rates. RHET provided hand-held GPS for the teachers to use and they were shown how it works on the farm on tractors and the quad bike.

   The group of teachers, who came from as far afield as Orkney and Peebles, were enthusiastic about the potential for transferring the knowledge from the farm to the classroom. They thought that many of the calculations and problem solving skills required in real life farming situations would link well with the new curriculum.

    We would like to think that the legacy from days like these will get the message to the classroom that maths, science and technology skills are now incredibly important to farming and there are good career opportunities within the industry.