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Midwest Farmers Unions Launch Curriculum Connecting Ag, STEM

A curriculum developed by farmers unions integrates technology such as 3-D printers with the study of agriculture. (North Dakota Farmers Union)
A curriculum developed by farmers unions integrates technology such as 3-D printers with the study of agriculture. (North Dakota Farmers Union)
February 28, 2019

BISMARCK, N. D. – Farmers unions are launching an agriculture-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum for kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

Farmers unions in North Dakota and four other Midwestern states have developed hands-on lessons that meld STEM learning and the study of agriculture, food and natural resources.

Miranda Letherman, youth education specialist for the North Dakota Farmers Union, predicts AG STEM especially will be a boon for rural students.

"Agriculture is really evolving and it's one of the most adaptable fields," she said, "and so, it is a really good fit to tie in the technology."

The five farmers unions, which make up Farmers Union Enterprises, teamed up with STEM Fuse to develop the curriculum.

Letherman said it will be a good resource for schools, where agriculture education has been lacking. She noted there are many career paths at the intersection of agriculture and technology, and the program will expose students to everything from computer coding to 3-D printing.

"Youths are able to solve problems dealing with irrigation and fertilizing, and also crop observations and assessments using 3-D printers and technology and the engineering-type problem-solving skills that are prevalent with STEM," she explained.

She mentioned that 3-D printers have a hidden connection to agriculture, since some of the filaments used in the printers come from farm byproducts. The AG STEM training already has started for North Dakota Farmers Union staff and volunteers, who plan to use the curriculum in the organization's summer-camp programs as well.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND