Commissioners at AG lab 2021

RIDGWAY--It was all hands on deck as the Elk County Commissioners and Ernie Mattiuz, local representative to the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau executive board, visited the "AG" (Agriculture) Lab that is visiting Ridgway this week. The AG Lab was in Johnsonburg last week and heads to St. Marys next week on its rounds around the state. Thanks to the hard work of the Elk County Farm Bureau funding, a donation from the Elk County Commissioners, and the tireless work of Marcia Raubenstrauch (Ridgway Elementary and Agriculture Teacher of the Year for the PA Farm Bureau), this moile laboratory is provided to schools at no cost through the Farm Bureau and the Friends of Agriculture. This mobile agriculture education science lab, complete with all supplies and a certified teacher, travels to a different elementary or middle school in Pennsylvania each week. The lab is designed to target grades K through 8. A 40 ft trailer provides space for student partners, complete with heating and air conditioning. The mobile lab contains 12 workstations, and each station offers space for 2-3 students to complete hands-on experiments. The lab accommodates up to 25-30 classes per week while teaching (5-6) 50-minute science classes per day.

The science curriculum taught meets the Pennsylvania Department of Education Science & Technology and Environment & Ecology Standards and is endorsed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The children perform hands-on science experiments, each teaching a lesson in agriculture education. The experiments performed include equipment and supplies not readily available to classroom teachers and are of a nature that most teachers wouldn't want to tackle in a traditional classroom setting. Each science experiment is designed to emphasize a different aspect of agriculture. Children work cooperatively to solve a problem as they form a hypothesis, collect data and draw conclusions. The curriculum is also adaptable to students of differing grade levels, from Kindergarten through 8th grade. The experiment for Monday included different materials and their ability to absorb water and other liquids. Four unidentified materials were provided for the students, who compared them by appearance and touch and made guesses as to how much water they could absorb. Later identified as raw sugar, refined sugar, and two polymers, the students and commissioners were amazed by the properties of one of the polymers, which absorbed over 60 ml of water into its 1/4 teaspoon sample.

Along with FSG students, the AG Lab will also host students from St. Leo's this week during its tour of Elk County.

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