‘Purple Plow Challenge’ Encourages Students to Propose Food Security Solutions
DuPont Pioneer sponsors new online learning opportunity for middle schoolers
The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has launched an engaging new online platform for middle-school educators highlighting maker space education. The resources for the program are provided at no cost to participants, thanks to support from DuPont Pioneer, the title sponsor of the program.
The Purple Plow Challenge site encourages students to research scenarios related to food, hunger and sustainability. Students also are encouraged to build their own prototypes to solve problems. The resources – provided for facilitators, students and volunteers – are written by teachers, aligned to national learning standards and reviewed by industry experts.
“The Purple Plow Challenge is a great fit for individuals, groups and classes in grades 6, 7 and 8. It’s perfect for maker spaces, after-school programs, in-school lessons, 4-H clubs, library learning, scout troops and more,” said Angela Mayfield, Education Director of the Foundation.
On Jan. 8, Bill Belzer, DuPont Pioneer Product Stewardship and Regulatory Compliance director, helped introduce the program at the Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Phoenix, Az.
“Innovation is key in agriculture to feed a growing population,” said Belzer. “Similarly, we need to innovate how we reach young people regarding the truths about agriculture and illustrate job opportunities available to them as future scientists, technicians, engineers, accountants and a host of other STEM fields.”
He added, “The Purple Plow Challenge is a creative approach, harnessing the maker space initiative to teach kids and teachers about food and agriculture.
“As a former ag science instructor, I appreciate the research the foundation conducts to bring high quality teaching resources to the classroom. This is another innovative program that the Foundation is bringing to a classroom near you.”
The Purple Plow Challenge contest will run seasonally. The first challenge, called H2Grow, asks students to design a sustainable living environment for aquatic life while growing food, runs through May 1.
“The Purple Plow Challenge was designed to support maker learning everywhere,” Mayfield explained. “The maker movement hinges on the concept that young people learn, and have fun learning, when they can solve a problem and share their solution with others.
“Critical thinking associated with making and solving problems is just as important as the end result,” Mayfield adds. “Maker spaces and maker challenges encourage kids to be excited about solving problems while applying the knowledge they gain.”
A maker space is a place where people with shared interests, can gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network and build. Maker spaces often include tools and resources that can be used by participants.
Schools are increasingly adopting the concept to encourage students to think and work creativity and collaboratively. Maker spaces offer a learning environment that invites experimentation and exploration.