New e-learning courses aligned to national curriculum outcomes are now available to teach school students about the Australian grains industry and ignite their passion for pursuing a high-tech problem-solving career in the $11.87 billion sector.
The high-quality courses were designed by teachers for school students in years 3 to 8 for use in classrooms and at home.
Students and teachers can access the courses via the Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA) portal - Primezone Academy.
PIEFA chief executive officer Luciano Mesiti says the courses address Australian curriculum outcomes in the learning areas of production, soils and technology.
“Our 2020 survey of almost 1200 Australian children showed a gap in knowledge about the grains industry, particularly among primary school students,” Mr Mesiti says.
“For example, we asked students if they knew what agronomists do and their understanding of these plant and soil scientists, who work with grain growers to improve their crop yields, was poor.”
Accordingly, he says PIEFA curriculum writers developed most of the courses from scratch, pulling together new and existing information on topics including soil water storage, sustainability and precision agriculture.
“We wanted to give teachers the tools to improve students’ understanding of the grains industry via e-learning after many reached out to us during the COVID-19 pandemic looking for resources,” Mr Mesiti says.
For those in years 3 to 4, courses called ‘Sunflower Stories’ and ‘Grains: Paddock to Plate’, were developed to help students understand the life cycle of sunflowers and the 20 other plants that comprise the Australian grains industry.
A more detailed course and another set of lessons under the banner of ‘The Science of Living Soils’ are available for children in years 5 and 6.
‘Intro to Oilseeds, Grains and Pulses’ provides engaging activities for students in years 5 to 8, while a more in-depth course called ‘Investigating and Managing Soils’ was written to help year 7 and 8 students take a deeper look at soils.
Teachers in schools with poor internet connectivity can access the new learning resources as PDFs downloadable through PIEFA’s website. These can be printed and given to students to complete at home or in the classroom.
GRDC industry and government relations manager, Maxie Hanft, says the six online courses were developed to foster students’ interest in the grains industry and the many career paths that are possible along the grains supply chain.
“We wanted to demonstrate the industry’s credentials as an exciting and high-tech place to work; exploring innovative and more profitable ways to help Australian farmers grow grain,” she says.
“We understand teachers are time poor and looking for resources mapped to the Australian curriculum, so we engaged PIEFA to develop new material to address students’ knowledge gaps.”