Special to the Herald
MACON – Georgia elementary classes in third through fifth grades are invited to enter the “Great Potato Challenge” STEM Challenge to put their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to work. Special education classes, homeschool or community/after school groups of third-through-fifth-grade students may also enter the challenge.
Elementary classes that participate in this challenge will study the life cycle of a potato. Students will observe 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 will record their observations in a journal and discuss their findings.
Teachers, parents of homeschoolers, or after-school group leaders interested in participating in the “Great Potato STEM Challenge” may visit www.gfb.ag/stemchallenge for more information and register for the program now through March 15, 2024.
Once teachers register their classes, they will receive instant access to a digital resource toolkit that equips their class for participating in the STEM challenge. The top-grade winner from the third, fourth and fifth-grade entries will win a prize package totaling $350 for their class.
Each participating class will be asked to answer the question “What can potatoes teach me about soil and how it interacts with living and nonliving things?
The STEM challenge asks participating classes to complete the provided lesson plan and activities provided for the challenge and then create a video presentation no longer than five minutes that demonstrates what the students learned about growing potatoes. Class presentations must be uploaded to YouTube for judging by March 15, 2024.
“We developed the STEM challenge to connect elementary students to Georgia agriculture. This year, students can observe potatoes growing in their own garden to see how soil interacts with living and non-living things around them,” said GFA Educational Programs Assistant Virginia Fulwood. “This type of activity is a hands-on way to learn.”
The statewide competition, sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) and the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA), is an outreach program of the GFA Georgia Ag Experience mobile classroom. This challenge has previously been offered in the fall and spring but has been redesigned to run an entire school year.
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 food and fiber.