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WSHS IB students part of pilot program with OSU Extension

WSHS IB students part of pilot program with OSU Extension

The International Baccalaureate Biology students at Westerville South High School explored soybean farms, corn fields and a cattle barn at Ohio State’s Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Lab on Tuesday — a visit that brought some of the lessons they’ve covered in lectures and books to life. 

They collected insects with pooters (insect catchers) and sweep nets to learn about host plant resistance and common soybean pests. They got a microscopic view of microbes at work inside a cow's stomach. With elevated levels of phosphorus being hazardous to local animal life, they conducted an experiment to mitigate phosphorus in water.

“It’s science in action,” said Lyndsey Manzo, the district’s secondary science curriculum specialist, who is part of a team of Central Ohio educators who organized the labs and ensured the lessons aligned with state science standards. 

The field trip is part of a pilot project with The Education Partners, a national education consulting firm, and the OSU Extension through the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. WSHS students, along with those at KIPP Academy and Columbus Global Academy STEM school, were the first to participate in the field trip educators hope to expand to districts across the region.

Manzo said the purpose of the visit is to expose students to the various career paths in agriculture, from the engineering involved in the equipment to an exploration of genetics in plant and animal life. While IB Biology classes have covered some of the topics featured in the Waterman visit, Manzo invited IB students in hopes of sparking ideas for their required Internal Assessment — a self-directed research project on a topic of their choice.

As part of the pilot, students took tests prior to and after their visit to assess their knowledge of the topics covered during the labs. They also shared their feedback with program organizers during a follow-up interview. 

With the new Education and Innovation Center at Waterman, OSU Extension can now host K-12 schools and show how agriculture and natural resources can reinforce STEM concepts students are learning in the classroom.

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