Interest in a free-to-use science teaching tool, which draws on the story of where food comes from, food production and the role of primary industry in New Zealand, is starting to flourish across the education sector.

Over 1600 primary and intermediate teachers, home educators as well as ‘enviro’ and ‘ag’ leaders have visited the Soil, Food and Society online resource, with many now planning to implement the resource’s lesson plans in 2018.

The tool applies the theme of ‘growing’ to bring to life fun scientific experiments and promote critical thinking amongst year 5-8 students.

Feedback shows that educators enjoy the storyline, and say the language, learnings and complexity of ideas are pitched well to each year group.

It is thought that the high number of visitors to the site is also linked to growing demand from education professionals for clear and simple integrated resources that are fit for 21st century learning and teaching, and provide engaging and flexible online learning environments for students.

“Quality Open Education Resources (OERs) with a New Zealand context are hard to find. Hallmarks of quality OERs include having NZ curriculum connections, referencing key competencies and science capabilities, providing inquiry guidance with examples rather than rigid content or information, and being endorsed by a reputable authority. The Soil, Food and Society has all of these hallmarks of quality,” says project manager, Ralph Springett.

Mandy Veza, a year 4-5 teacher from Roslyn School in Palmerston North agrees.

“We are hoping to use this resource to help teach our children how to make an edible sustainable garden, teaching them along the way about where our food comes from.

Soil food and society plants are alive

“We believe using our gardens is a great way to teach science away from the classroom outside in the fresh air. The students become part of the learning process, gain skills and enjoy the healthy foods they grow.”

From today, visitors to www.soilfoodsociety.online will see an upgraded version of the resource featuring stronger curriculum links (particularly to English, Maths and Technology), a more thorough glossary for students, downloadable equipment lists and improved site design and navigation.

This project is funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund, The Fertiliser Quality Council, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Horticulture NZ, Core Education, House of Science, Ravensdown, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Irrigation New Zealand and NZ Young Farmers.

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