Area fourth graders got a few pieces of technology on Wednesday, September 7 at the Legacy of the Plains Museum.
However, the students were not given a tablet or smartphone. Instead, they received hands-on lessons and demonstrations on agricultural technology from the early 20th century to the present day.
There were different stations set up around the Legacy of the Plains campus. Some of the lessons were about shelling corn for cattle feed, the use of pulleys to lift heavy weights, the evolution of potato planting and harvesting, and the installation of irrigation pipes.
Teacher Taylor Briggs’s fourth-grade class from Mitchell Elementary was one of the schools that participated in Tools and Technology Through Time on Wednesday.
“It’s engaging and helps them remember the concepts they’re learning,” Briggs said. “It connects a lot more with our curriculum when we talk about things like force in motion and energy. Simple machines are more concrete to learn.”
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The station that may have gotten the most reaction from the students was the irrigation demonstration. A student living on a farm easily drew water from the irrigation pipe, causing his classmates to amaze. The rest of the students were not as skilled and had difficulty drawing water from the tubes.
Lincoln Elementary teacher Tracy Steele said hands-on learning helps reinforce lessons.
“At any time, we can go out to do practical activities, it only improves the children’s level of understanding. You can read about it in a book, but if you can experience it with a hands-on activity, it sinks in a lot more,” Steele said. “I think they love being outside doing something rather than reading about it, and they like to be hands-on. The pedal tractor is always fun, but any, any of the activities that they can interact with are the ones they like the most.’
Legacy of the Plains Director Dave Wolf said Tools and Technology Through Time is important to help connect students with the area’s agricultural past and present and also teach them something in the process.
“It really exposes them to what it was like,” he said. “A lot of people have this sense of agriculture, either when they used horses or today. It really shows that evolution and agriculture is very much based on science, and very much based on engineering.
“There are some very good skills for them to go out and learn. (Tools and Technology Through Time) focus is really on learning more about the history of your area. Obviously, agriculture is very important. But they’re also learning, the cultural aspects of hard work and really what it took for people to be here and build what we have so far.”
Wolf said the full-day program is important to students.
“Children get their hands dirty. It is putting physical things in their hands. I think no matter what people say about kids and technology, with their phones and tablets, they’re still very down-to-earth people. So, we provided a little bit of that and I think that’s why we were successful.”
Wolf said the show also really shows how far technology has advanced in agriculture.
“It was much more laborious. Now it’s easier. They now have GPS on their tractors. Now there is air conditioning. There are still plenty of tractors (from the past in use), like the 1940’s Farmall we’re using. Tractors from the 50s and 60s are still used, but we have this vision because we see the new combines, and they are great. They are the reasons why we can feed all the people that we do, but I think there is a little more appreciation for the past generations (after the students go through all the activities of the day)”.