I ATE MY HOMEWORK! AN INTEGRATIVE PROGRAM GROWING IN SCHOOLS H. Wooten, UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, Sanford, FL, K. McCormick, UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, Sanford, FL. K. Henry, UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, Sanford, FL. C. Woodard, UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, Sanford, FL.
Situation: School teachers in urban counties pursue activities growing plants that reinforce learning science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. Hydroponics in the classroom offers an affordable, reliable, and manageable hands- on activity for students to demonstrate techniques in STEM subjects while also introducing students to agriculture. Master Gardener school gardens volunteers can maximize their reach and gain volunteer hours with ready- to- use workshops.
Methods: One, 4.5 hour, train- the- teacher workshop entitled “I Ate My Homework! Hydroponics for Students 4- H School Enrichment Program” was offered to 19 Seminole County Public School teachers. Extension agents from agriculture, residential horticulture, and 4- H disciplines, Master Gardener school gardens volunteers, and an experienced teacher led the workshop followed by a farm tour and lunch. Hydroponic activity materials and at least one Master Gardener volunteer were committed to facilitate the activity to participating teachers’ classrooms for up to 500 students during the 2018- 2019 schoolyear. The activity includes students constructing their own hydroponic planter from a recycled jug, adding nutrients, planting a lettuce seed, and placing the container in a sunny location for observation during the growing season. The cost is $1 each.
Results: Post train- the- teacher workshop evaluations (n= 17), 100% increased awareness about UF/IFAS Extension Services and volunteer programs, 100% increased knowledge about significance of ag in Florida, 100% increased knowledge about hydroponic growing, and 88% intend to incorporate “I Ate My Homework!” hydroponics activity in their 2018- 2019 lessons. As of March 2019, the activity has been successful in 15 classrooms for 625 students.
Conclusion: UF/IFAS Extension provided train- the- teacher workshops with a ready- to- use educational activity for both Master Gardener volunteers and public school teachers instills confidence in our partners’ ability to further extend Extension education with successful results for participants, volunteers, and agents.