Students and teachers in a South Dakota school district found a way to study multiple ecosystems firsthand … all without leaving the classroom.
With a $10,000 grant from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer, a school in the Wolsey-Wessington School District created a biodome to enhance its students’ STEM education.
A Firsthand Ecosystem Experience
This isn’t your average science project. Math and science students were involved in the three-dimensional biodome’s design, creation and assembly processes. This mini-biosphere, 3 feet by 5 feet in diameter, contained five ecosystems: forest, desert, grassland, mountain and aquatic.
The project had three main goals:
- Infuse modern technologies and real-world collaboration into student learning
- Increase hands-on experiences in math and science courses
- Expand student interest in STEM fields
Math students were tasked with designing and creating the inorganic parts of the ecosystems, such as the living quarters, air system and bridges. They did this by scaling the objects down using geometric principles and printing them with a 3D printer. Science students were tasked with studying the ecosystems and life support systems necessary for an artificial living setting.
He found out that working hard on something could pay off in a big way.Teacher, Wolsey-Wessington School District
A Teacher-Student Breakthrough
The introduction of this math and science hands-on project made all the difference in helping a high school teacher connect with one of her students who had typically been difficult to reach. But when the biodome project was underway at school, his educational career took a turning point. The teacher found her student working hard, even after school hours, to assist with the biodome.
“I truly believe that this event was one of those life-changing moments for this young man,” his teacher said.
Inspiring a Commitment to STEM Learning
Many students may not think they’re interested in or have an inclination toward STEM subjects. Grow Rural Education aims to change that. By providing rural education grants to public school districts nationwide, the organization hopes to enable even more impactful experiences for students and teachers alike.
If you are an American farmer, consider nominating your local school district for a $10,000 or $25,000 grant. It could make all the difference in the lives of students in your area. Check out the selection process for more information.