Kids normally are not encouraged to eat dirt, but that was not the case Thursday at Victor Ornelas Elementary School, where students did just that.
The dirt, or soil, wasn’t just any old dirt though. Using marshmallows, Cheerios, Cocoa Pebbles, M&Ms and gummy worms, Jeana Anliker taught students about the different levels of soil.
But that was just one of many lessons taught at the school’s second annual Ag Math Day, where kindergarten through fourth-graders learned how math applies to agriculture.
“This day is a learning opportunity for our kids to use their math and apply it, connected to agriculture,” Dianna Deniston, instructional coach at Victor Ornelas said.
Using the edible teaching tools, Anliker shared her lesson with the students.
“We have the bedrock, we have the subsoil, topsoil and then we’re putting organic matter on top and then a worm that breaks down the organic matter,” Anliker said, as fourth-graders filled up cups with all the ingredients. “We’re talking about math, using a quarter of a cup of each item and then a tablespoon of organic matter.”
Before she told them to eat their dirt, Anliker explained the various soil levels to the students.
“Our bedrock is our marshmallows, so you’re eating rocks when you eat those marshmallows,” she said, evoking giggles from her audience. ”The next level is subsoil, and it’s our Cheerios. What do you think helps in that subsoil? Look how soggy these Cheerios are. We want water in our subsoil so the root of whatever we plant in it can suck up the moisture.”
The Cocoa Pebbles, or topsoil, is where seeds are planted.
“Our topsoil is where all of our minerals and all the vitamins for the ground are, so that’s where the most fertile soil is, which is going to make your plant grow the best,” Anliker said.
While M&Ms represented organic matter during the lesson, it is usually made up of leaves, dead grass and compost, Anliker said.
“Worms help that organic matter to break down. That organic matter serves as vitamins in the ground,” she said.
In tandem with Farm Bureau and Collegiate Farm Bureau, as well as local farmers, Deniston once again brought the farm to the classroom, but this year, animals were also added to the mix.
Jennifer Gerber, Finney County Farm Bureau coordinator, who helped Deniston coordinate the event, said that they are constantly looking for ways to improve the event.
“It’s nice to pull in a few new things and the animals, the kids just love the animals,” Gerber said.
Callie Metzger and her family brought three hens, and after sharing facts about them with Kirsten Maurer’s kindergarten class, she asked the students for a recap.
“How much do chickens weigh,” Metzger asked, to which the kids replied, “Four pounds.”
“How many eggs do they lay a day,” Maurer asked her students, to which they replied, “Six.”
Following that station, the kindergarten class made its way to the rabbit station, where Finney County Extension agent Barbara Addison sked the students how many ears, eyes and teeth the fluffy, brown rabbit she was holding had.
“Now we look at its toes, on the front it has one, two, three, four, five. It has five toes on each side. Do you know what five plus five is,” Addison asked the kids, to which they replied, “Ten.”
There were also goats and a pony, as well as a toy tractor pull, where kids learned about resistance. At the pumpkin patch, kids measured the pumpkins’ circumference.
“The teachers really like the hands-on activities, that the kids are learning and that they’re using their math,” Deniston said.
At other stations, students used weights of measure, such as bushels, to determine different quantities of corn and milo.
Deniston’s hope is that teachers will take some of the lessons the students learned on Thursday back to the classroom.
“I talked to Traci Heiman, and she said that the kids are going to write about it tomorrow, during their writing time. And I asked her if I can read what they wrote so I can get a feel, from their point of view, how it went,” Deniston said.
Heiman is a third-grade teacher at Victor Ornelas, and Deniston said that she was glad to hear that they were going to be writing about it.
“The best education is to be able to connect all curriculum,” Deniston said.