GFA & GACD name Pollinator Protector STEM Challenge winners
Georgia elementary students learned how to protect pollinators as they put their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to work this spring as they competed in the third Georgia Ag Experience STEM Challenge. The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA) coordinated the challenge in partnership with the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD).
The Great Georgia Pollinator Protector STEM Challenge asked students to explore how pollinator spaces in our landscapes can be improved and increased. The STEM Challenge was open to third through fifth-grade classes statewide with a winner picked for each grade. Almost 60 classes registered for the challenge.
Congratulations to Greene County Primary School’s “GCPS Pollinator Protectors,” taught by Christy Griffin, for winning the third-grade prize! Rabun County Elementary School’s “Mrs. Dill’s Team,” taught by Laurie Dills won the fourth-grade prize. Norris Elementary School’s “NES QUEST Problem Solvers,” taught by Khrista Henry in McDuffie County were the fifth-grade winners.
“The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture congratulates our three grade winners,” said Virginia Fulwood, GFA educational programs assistant. “It’s such a pleasure for the foundation to coordinate a contest that connects students with agriculture as they utilize their STEM skills.”
Greene County Primary School’s “GCPS Pollinator Protectors” won its third-grade division for designing a creative pollinator garden for their class. The Greene County students did a great job of describing their experience. The class even had a visit from a UGA entomologist. Visit https://gfb.ag/gcpspollinatorprotectors to view the winning presentation for the third grade.
Rabun County Elementary School’s “Mrs. Dill’s Team” did an incredible job building a pollinator garden at their school with the help of the Rabun County Farm Bureau that features a variety of plants that will bloom for many months to make sure pollinators have resources all year long. Visit https://gfb.ag/rcesmrsdillsteam to view the fourth-grade winner.
Norris Elementary School’s “NES QUEST Problem Solvers” created an original song to share their knowledge of pollinators. The students sang about conducting research and data collection to create a pollinator garden at their school. Their video was the most creative of the fifth-grade submissions. Visit https://gfb.ag/nesquestproblemsolvers to view the fifth-grade winner.
“The three winning teams’ projects stood out for their creative garden design, wisely picking plants that bloom for months, or producing an enthusiastic, unique presentation. These students did amazing work they and their teachers should be proud of,” said Natalie Bennett, GFA educational programs assistant.
Teachers of each winning class received a $250 classroom supply grant and a choice of an irrigation kit or a barrel irrigation for their gardens.
“The Georgia Association of Conservation Districts is excited to partner with the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture on the 2022 Spring STEM Challenge,” said GACD Executive Director Katie Sponberger. “This challenge, which focused on our state's pollinators, helped students understand the impact pollinators have on agriculture.”
Each class that participated in the STEM Challenge was asked to answer the question, “How can we improve and increase pollinator spaces across our landscapes?”
The challenge required participating classes to: 1) Engage: by forming connections between their own needs and the needs of pollinators. 2) Explore: by evaluating pollinator space and pollinator activity in their chosen area. 3) Reflect: by asking why pollinators are important and what would happen if we didn’t have them. 4) Create: a video presentation including the process of data collection, an overview of the pre-existing pollinator space, and how it has been modified to fit the needs of pollinators while demonstrating knowledge of plant and pollinator relationships in different seasons and the role pollinators play in food production.
The Georgia Ag Experience/Georgia Foundation for Agriculture STEM Challenge is designed to be a bi-annual competition with a spring and fall contest. The GACD is the 2022 challenge partner. This year’s fall STEM Challenge will ask students to explore water conservation. Look for challenge details to be announced in August at www.gfb.ag/stemchallenge .
The purpose of the GAE STEM Challenge is to encourage elementary teachers and students in grades 3-5 to explore aspects of Georgia agriculture by applying their STEM skills to solve real-world problems that farmers face in producing our food and fiber. It is the only ag-focused STEM challenge for elementary students in Georgia.