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September 29, 2011   Email to Friend 

MY AMERICAN FARM: GAMES MAKE LEARNING ABOUT AGRICULTURE A FUN, HIGH-TECH EXPERIENCE
Melissa Martin
(334) 612-5448
September 29, 2011

Students learned about geography, mathematics, reading comprehension, geometry, science and health through agricultural games.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. --- Most children have never visited a farm, but thanks to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and Pioneer Hi-Bred, kids throughout the country can have a virtual farm experience by playing a series of "My American Farm" games.

In addition to teaching students about the importance of agriculture, the games also provide lessons in geography, mathematics, reading comprehension, geometry, science and health.

"Sixty years ago, many children either grew up around production agriculture or at least visited their grandparents' farm," said Jeff Helms, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation's communications and public relations department. "Today, however, some kids are three generations removed from farming. To them, food comes from the grocery store or fast-food chain. Few make the connection that somewhere a farmer had to gather the crops, milk the cows or raise the animals so that we have food to eat. This game helps educate children and adults about our food and fiber system. It also compliments other Farmers Federation programs like Ag in the Classroom and Farm-City."

The games are aimed at students in third through sixth grades, with varying degrees of difficulty. A third-grade class at Catoma Elementary School in Montgomery recently combined SMARTBoard technology with the "My American Farm" gaming platform. Students experienced the games as a class rather than on individual computers.

Chyanne Frizzell, a student in Brandi Walker's class at Catoma said before she played the games, she never knew farmers used math, science, reading and geography--all subjects she's learning in school.

"I learned that farmers are very smart, and they can do almost anything," Chyanne said.

For almost an hour, the students gathered at the board and played the games together, taking turns and helping each other find answers.

For each correct answer while playing the games, players receive facts like "A farmer gets about 23 cents from each dollar you spend to buy food that came from their farm" as well as celebratory cheers from the computer.

The overall class favorite was "Let's Make Something Tasty," a game that requires players to find missing recipe ingredients in a word search.

The children also played "That's Life," which explores life and production cycles of several crops, animals and products, including soy, cotton, pumpkin, horses and paper.

"Where in the World" took the class to places like England, Mexico and Spain to learn about the origins of several animals and crops.

In addition to learning about farmers while playing the games, the students learned that even though farming is a large part of agriculture, it isn't the only occupation encompassed within the industry.

By playing "My Little Ag Me," the class learned about the responsibilities of food chemists, large animal veterinarians, loggers, plant scientists, diesel mechanics, produce buyers and environmental engineers.

In January, all 13 "My American Farm" games were tied together to make one longer game, "The Ultimate Challenge." To play that game students select a "farmer" avatar and take on the challenge of building a virtual farm as they play each of the games on "My American Farm."

"The Ultimate Challenge gives students an opportunity to see and experience the story of agriculture from gate to plate," said Curtis Miller, director of education for the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. "Further, it does so while sharing accurate and up-to-date messages about agriculture."

To find the "My American Farm" games, visit myamericanfarm.org/games/.


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