Middle School Students Learn Through Experience at Thor-Nox Farm

Farmstand Enthusiasm

 

Thor-Nox Farm offered Ms. Kelly and Mrs. Heard's students opportunity to develop skills and knowledge of math, science, and social studies through participation in the annual Farmstand, held the weekend of Common Ground Fair. The students explored the ecosystem of the farm first, collecting and identifying insect and plant species, pumpkins with animal bites and even finding a woodchuck burrow in the center of the garden! This led naturally (no pun intended!) to learning about food chains and webs, the importance of decomposers and pollinators, the role of abiotic factors, characteristics of different varieties, and much more. The primary topic of the unit, however, was Economics! Students had been experiencing first-hand the realities of trade, supply and demand, surplus and shortage, banking, profit, loss, alliance, monopoly, risk, and even bankruptcy through playing a board game called CATAN.  CATAN illustrated to them the importance of natural resource wealth, the role of sea and land transportation networks, strategic location in business, the economically damaging effect of crime, and other social studies concepts. Students put that learning to work on the Farmstand by sorting and grading product, display, pricing, and advertising. Finally, they each made recommendations for next season based on their own analysis of a spreadsheet of sales data. They compared % profit to % land dedicated to each variety of vegetable. They took into account the benefits of biodiversity, both ecologically, and in terms of shifting consumer demand from year to year. This project took advantage of the wealth of land around us for real, experiential learning. Each child developed a personal hands-on relationship with the farm as well as writing in daily social studies journals and science journals to explain their understanding. And, was it ever fun!

 

Corn Harvest