Ag teachers return to classroom

Anna Willard/Capital Press Curtis North, left, Eagle Point High School, and Dan Speelman Hidden Valley High School, look at potato and onion cells under the microscope during the CASE Institute at OSU.

OSU hosts conference to integrate science

into ag curriculum

By ANNA WILLARD

Capital Press

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A group of high school agricultural science and technology instructors have become students again for a two-week curriculum training course at Oregon State University.

The Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education Institute is a training course to help the 18 teachers integrate science and laboratory activities into their course work. Instructors came from Idaho, New Jersey, Minnesota, Virginia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Oregon.

The teachers are required to attend class from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, as well as a Saturday session. They are also given homework assignments, said Greg Thompson, the general agriculture and agricultural education department head at OSU.

The course is led by other agricultural science and technology instructors certified by Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education. Instructors Carl Aakre and Liz Tinaglia came from Minnesota to lead the institute.

The training emphasizes science in agriculture, Thompson said.

"We help teachers with the curriculum by giving them a better understanding of it and to answer any questions or concerns they have," Aakre said. "This is not just subject matter, but it is how to teach it in the classroom."

The institute focuses on plants in agricultural science curriculum. Ten units cover everything from the properties of soil to harvesting and marketing crops.

"We're in the fourth unit, and we are going over the anatomy and physiology of plants," Aakre said.

The students learn how to use the latest technology. One example is a handheld data-collection device that can record temperature, oxygen and acidity readings, among other things. While collecting data, it can simultaneously graph the data that can later be downloaded to a computer for analysis.

A carbon dioxide respiration exercise demonstrated how the equipment can be used in the classroom. The object of the experiment was to find the respiration rate of yeast while digesting sucrose and compare it with the respiration rate of yeast digesting glucose.

Curtis North is one of two agriculture instructors at Eagle Point High School in Eagle Point, Ore. He teaches a horticulture class in which all of the material studied at the institute will be used.

"Eagle Point offers science credit for my course, and this curriculum gives it more validity as a science credit," North said. "This material is all applied so students can direct their own learning, they can answer their own questions, and apply it to an agricultural setting."

With the increase of science and math in their curriculum, the institute also helps agriculture instructors satisfy state and national benchmarks.

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