Ag News

GFA announces Great Potato STEM Challenge winners

Posted on Apr 18, 2024 at 9:53 AM

Georgia elementary students who participated in the Great Potato STEM Challenge have a new understanding of how potatoes used to make French fries grow. The competition, coordinated by the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA) in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom program, is designed to let teachers and their students use science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to explore an agriculture-related subject.

During the 2023/2024 school year, students observed the growth patterns of a potato planted in soil, a potato grown hydroponically, and a control potato placed in a petri dish with no source of nourishment. Students recorded their observations in journals and created a video presentation discussing their findings. 

The statewide competition is an outreach program of the GFA Georgia Ag Experience mobile classroom, which travels across the state visiting elementary schools to introduce third through fifth graders to agriculture using interactive computer displays and games.

The challenge was open to third through fifth-grade classes and to homeschool or after school groups for students in these grades. Each class that participated in the STEM challenge was asked to answer the question, “What can potatoes teach about soil, and how does soil interact with living and non-living things?”

The challenge required participating teams to create a video presentation no longer than five minutes to demonstrate what the students learned about growing potatoes.

Congratulations to the third and fourth-grade classes at West Point Elementary in Troup County taught by Jannette Bryan for winning their respective grade divisions in the Great Potato STEM Challenge. McKibben Lane Elementary students taught by Cristina Johnson in Bibb County won the fifth-grade prize. The Rabun County Library’s Homeschool Ag Group won the home-school/after-school division. Rabun County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee Chairman Stephanie Branch leads the group’s twice monthly meetings with help from Rabun County Library Youth Services Coordinator Kim Cannon.  

“The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture congratulates all of our team winners,” said Virginia Fulwood, GFA educational programs assistant. “It’s a pleasure for the foundation to coordinate a contest that connects students with agriculture as they utilize their STEM skills.”

Bryan’s Westpoint Elementary STEM students won their respective grade division awards for their creative and inquisitive thought processes. One class compared how potatoes grow to how peanuts grow; both classes used colorful journals to record the development of their class potatoes in real-time.

To see the West Point Elementary students’ winning videos visit and Bryan’s third graders named their team the Potato Patch Kids while her fourth graders called their team the Potato People.

The McKibben Lane students won the 5th-grade division of the contest for their detailed research, scientific approach and the creative methods they used to study the development and growth of potatoes. The McKibben Lane Lancers' winning video may be viewed at

The Homeschool Ag Group was recognized for using detailed analysis and out-of-the-box thinking to grow potatoes and learn about agriculture in their community. To see the Rabun Russetts’ winning video visit

Teachers interested in participating in the next STEM Challenge to be announced in the fall should visit for more information from late August to early September. Teachers who register their classes will receive access to resources that equip the class to participate in the next Georgia Ag Experience STEM Challenge.

The purpose of the 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.        

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