Other Resources

FarmChat®

FarmChat® FAQ

Question: What is FarmChat™?

Answer: FarmChat™ is a unique program that utilizes technology (Skype, FaceTime and other software platforms) to bring the farm experience directly into school classrooms. Using a lap top at the school and a mobile device at the farm, students connect with and directly speak with the farmer. Students can see the farm and ask the farmer questions. They can even virtually ride along in the combine or tour a livestock barn all from the safety and security of their classroom.

Question: Why FarmChat™?

Answer:

  • No transportation needed = Cost savings
  • Less time away from school
  • Many working farms not set up for fieldtrips (safety issues and other logistical issues like bathrooms create obstacles)
  • It is very easy to reschedule if for any reason there is a problem
  • Allows you to focus the experience and the student learning
  • There are fewer distractions for students and learning time is maximized
  • Students can see and experience things that they could not during a class fieldtrip to a farm
  • Provides real-world connections to the Iowa Core.

Question: Who can do FarmChat™?

Answer: Anyone! The beauty of the program is that it is simple, easy, and only relies on connectivity of a cellular network. FarmChat™ programs can be initiated by farmers interested in sharing what they do. They can be initiated by teachers wanting to teach their students about crops and livestock. Or they can be initiated by community groups or volunteers.

Question: What are some Tips for Success?

Answer:

  • Be sure to have a structured outline of the program. Work with the teacher to develop it. Ask yourself these questions:
    • What do students want to know?
    • What topics and skills are the students learning in school? (consider math, science, and social studies connections)
    • What will the farmer talk about and when?
    • How can I minimize down time during transitions (i.e. moving from the hog barn to the machine shed)?
    • How much time should we leave for questions?
  • Have your software of choice downloaded on the mobile device at the farm as well as on the computer in the classroom. We recommend Skype, but there are several others that can work too.
  • A cellular connection on farm end is better than hotspot or Wi-Fi
  • A hardwired connection at the school ensures the best quality connection as opposed to a wireless connection
  • Test the connection prior to class participation
    • Test while on location if you are at all worried about the cellular connection. Metal barns and background noise from animals or equipment affect the quality of the connection,
    • Do a dry run with the teacher, especially if they are not familiar with Skype
  • Decide on who calls who and at what time
  • It is best to have a camera person holding the phone or iPad at the farm, so that the farmer can focus on the presentation and talking with the students
  • The person filming should get comfortable with iPad or Phone
    • Know microphone and camera locations (make sure you don’t cover them up with a finger)
    • Keep the mic away from wind
    • When filming, keep your back to sun
    • Hold the device landscape for wider view
    • Move the device slowly
  • Position the school computer at the students’ height so they can speak and look directly into the camera.
  • Use eternal speakers on school-end so you can better control the volume in the classroom
  • Have younger students prepare questions in advance or whisper questions to the teacher before asking their question.
  • Keep the program to 20 minutes for grades K-2. Keep the program between 20 and 35 minutes for grades 3 and up.

Links

  • National Ag in the Classroom
  • Pizz-A-Thon - Pizza-A-Thon is an easy to implement, multi-day curriculum that engages students in exciting team activities to create and market a pizza business. Students explore, experiment and discover - linking food to careers, farming, soil and conservation. It employs critical thinking skills and presentation skills.
  • Farm to School: Growing Minds - Great lesson plans make any new classroom project a cinch! These Farm to School activities are easily incorporated into state and national curriculum.
  • From the Ground Up: The Science of Soil - Make science relevant for your students with a topic that affects them every day – soil. Discovery Education and Nutrients for Life Foundation have loads of interactive lesson plans available to help students learn about the science of soil. Plus, any resources ordered are free of charge.
  • Addressing Misconceptions in Agriculture - Take a look at some of the common misconceptions about agriculture and discover the truth and facts!
  • Educator Resources on Dairy - Take a journey with milk and learn all about the science of dairy from the Midwest Dairy Associaiton.
  • Market to Market - Iowa Public Television connecting students and educators with stories about the business, technology, and science of agriculture. Gain a deeper understanding of the people, issues and events that shape agriculture today!
  • Soils for Teachers - Soil plays a vital role in sustaining human welfare and assuring future agricultural productivity and environmental stability. Check out these K-12 lessons to help students learn all about soils.
  • Journey 2050 - How will we sustainably feed over 9 billion people by the year 2050? Find out with this virtual simulation.
  • Integrated Pest Management - Find a compilation of K-12 lessons linking entomology and IPM to math, science, social studies, and language arts.
  • All About Corn - A great series of interactive online modules with nearly five hours of programming on everything about corn, targeted to high school and undergraduate students.
  • Iowa Pathways - Iowa Pathways is a learning environment that challenges students to create their own story of Iowa history and agriculture as they explore the people, places, events and ideas. Students choose topics that interest them as they examine relationships among Iowa concepts.
  • Explore More - Explore More is a resource for students to unravel issues and make informed decisions about water quality, genetic energy, environmental sustainability, and future sources of energy. Video, interactive simulations, background essays, webquests and lesson plans help teachers connect local concepts to the classroom.
  • Trouble at Grainly Farms - Can your students identify and solve the problem at Grainly Farms? This interactive case study for grades 7-12 incorporates scientific concepts such as natural selection, adaptation, inheritance of traits, integrated pest management and nematodes. Students apply their understanding of scientific concepts and suggest a plan to deal with the trouble at Grainly Farms.
  • Beef...It’s What’s for Dinner - The Iowa Beef Industry Council is pleased to offer highly qualified peer-reviewed educational materials to Iowa teachers.
  • Plant Pathways to Science - Keeping plants healthy is important whether you are a large scale food producer or a home gardener. Use these lessons to teach students all about plant diseases and how to treat them.
  • Learning Fields - Living History Farms provides a digital way to learn how agriculture has changed over the past 300 years in Iowa. Explore crops, livestock, power, and people in agriculture.
  • Camp Silos - Online educational resource for grades 4-8 with information related to early agricultural technology, pioneer farm life, and the story of corn.
  • Soy Education - Student worksheets, coloring pages, and full lesson plans. Teachers can use soybeans to help teach students about plant life cycles and so much more!
  • Corn Use Education - Corn takes many forms and gets used in many ways! These basic facts and information for consumers about corn production, processing and uses are great references. Be sure to check out the fun kid’s pages too!
  • Everything but the Oink: - It is really important to provide your students with a nutritious and delicious education. To help you teach kids how well pork fits into a balanced and healthy diet, check out these ideas and activities you can use in your classroom, guaranteed to keep them hungry for more!
  • Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation - Help your students celebrate a famous and influential Iowan – Norman Borlaug – who is helped usher in the Green Revolution and save a million lives. Lesson plans, children’s books, and more.
  • C6 BioFarm - Biofuels will provide 27% of the world’s transportation fuels by 2050. Learn the difference between new carbon and old carbon with this app based game!
  • Science of Agriculture -Short animations, interactives and videos teach math & science concepts crucial to the study of agriculture.

Photo Gallery