WESTOVER — Harmony Area school students have been taking a hands-on approach to science experiments this week during a visit by the mobile Agriculture Educational Science Lab to the school district.
The 40-foot traveling science lab is one of five that visits school districts throughout Pennsylvania. It allows students to conduct scientific experiments with an emphasis on farms, foods, fiber and the environment, with emphasis on the state’s primary commodities.
The curriculum taught in the lab meets state Department of Education standards for science, technology, environment and ecology. The lab is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, a division of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. The purpose of the lab is to provide students with an enjoyable opportunity to learn about agriculture by actively participating in the lesson.
The lab provides all equipment and supplies needed for the lesson. Teacher Cathy Vorisek, who travels with the lab, said each of the mobile labs has a different theme. The one visiting Harmony this week focuses on careers. On the walls of the lab are colorful displays with information about students’ likes and connectable careers in agriculture.
Students in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade have or will visit the lab this week.
On Wednesday, students learned about “The Colorful Bean.” As part of the lesson, students tested the differences between crayons made with petroleum products and those crafted from soybeans and worked to formulate a hypothesis about which crayon was better for the environment.
Each also had an opportunity to assist in making a crayon from soybean oil that they could take with them.
Principal Doug Martz said, “The mobile Agriculture Education Science Lab has been a fantastic program for Harmony students. They are really enjoying the levels of creativity and outside-the-box lesson plans that have been going on there. I’m very impressed with the fun and learning we’ve seen in the mobile classroom. I would like to commend elementary teacher Sherry Hughes, as well as her entire family, for the involvement they have had in bringing this program to Harmony. She has been working with Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the mobile lab all year long and has worked extremely hard in putting together a great schedule with their organizers. The entire administration would also like to thank the local 4-H organization for their efforts in fundraising for this event.”
Hughes, who helped to coordinate the lab’s visit at Harmony, is also a leader for the Harmony 4-H Club and invited her club to assist students visiting the lab.
She thanked those who assisted with the visit.
“Thank you to the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Harmony 4-H Club, the Harmony Grange Fair Board, T.H. Port-A-Johns, and Rosebud Mining Co. for sponsoring the Agricultural Lab’s visit to Harmony.”