Temple Hill Elementary

Shown from left are fifth-graders Priscilla Braun, Elle Headrick and Grayson Pickerel as they test various substances for absorbency during a science experiment when visiting the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's mobile science activity center.

TEMPLE HILL — The Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Mobile Science Activity Center is visiting Temple Hill Elementary this week providing the school's students with a chance to take part in a variety of science experiments related to agriculture.

Jason Hodge, program coordinator for KDA, explained that when students come to the mobile science activity center, which is in a goose-neck trailer, they take part in hands-on science activities.

“We are covering the science curriculum that they are being taught in the classroom, but everything has an agriculture connection,” he said. “Our goal is to still get a little bit of agriculture back to kids even at an early age.”

He continued that a lot of students are four-to-five generations removed from the farm and many of them have no idea that the food they eat actually comes from a farm, so KDA wants to teach students across the state a little bit about agriculture, Hodge said.

On Tuesday, fifth grade students in Shanna Depp's class took part in an absorption activity.

“What this is designed to do is let the students check the saturation point of various substances,” Hodge said.

Depp's students were grouped in to teams of three or four and assigned to work stations along two counters in the mobile science activity center.

At each work station there were five clear, plastic plates, with each featuring a different substance. The substances were: sugar, cornmeal, flour, cornstarch and a material unknown to the students that was later identified as the substance found inside disposable diapers.

The students were required to use the scientific method in determining which substance could absorb the most when drops of water were applied.

They had to first conduct research and then develop a hypothesis. Next, they got to test their hypothesis by conducting the experiment, and lastly they had to analyze the data and draw a conclusion.

Elle Headrick, one of Depp's students, said she enjoyed coming to the mobile science activity center and taking part in the science experiment.

“I love it,” she said. “I like making a mess.”

Headrick was working with Grayson Pickerel and Priscilla Braun.

“Usually, I like interesting things and this is interesting,” Braun said.

Pickerel said he thought it was “pretty cool project.”

There are a couple of things Depp wanted her students to take away from their visit to the mobile science activity center.

“I would like for them to be able to work as a team (and) to solve a problem,” she said.

She also said she would like for students to be able to follow the steps required for the scientific method and to enjoy the hands-on activity Hodge provided for them.

The mobile science activity center will be at the school for three days.

On Wednesday, students in grades 4-6 will make ice cream and on Thursday students in grades 3-5 will take part in a seed germination activity.

KDA has three mobile science activity centers that travel to schools across the state.

“We will hit somewhere between 40 to 50 schools per trailer per year,” Hodge said. “That's on average. It could give or take a little.”

The mobile science activity centers are equipped with tablet computers, a 70-inch LED monitor and an all-in-one touchscreen desktop computer that are used when interacting with students, said a KDA press release.

The mobile science activity centers are provided by the Education and Outreach Division of KDA's office of marketing, the press release said.

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