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Ag in Motion inspires local students
Dutcher Middle School teacher Angela De Tomasi assists Sean Locke as he looks at insects through a microscope in the Ag in Motion van on Friday. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Drivers near the intersection of Colorado and Hawkeye Avenues in the past week were probably wondering what a large, colorful trailer was doing on the Dutcher Middle School campus. Upon closer inspection, people passing by could read a few words printed on the exterior:” Bringing ag science to youth.”

The large trailer, known as a mobile lab, is part of Ag in Motion, a program through the National Agriculture Science Center that enables students to enjoy a hands-on, standards based science lab without leaving their campus. Upon entering the lab, students are shocked to find that the trailer fits up to 40 students and includes stools, tables and microscopes among other digital technology for their lesson. Dutcher seventh grade students enjoyed a life science lab on bugs while eighth grade students, who study physical science, explored a density lab.

“We took the standards that are required to teach and we built our curriculum off of that so it would be easily incorporated and fit seamlessly in what they have to teach, we also drew in agriculture component,” said Jennifer Stolle, mobile lab coordinator and instructor.

The Ag in Motion mobile lab is made possible through the National Agriculture Science Center, a private nonprofit that serves the Stanislaus County area through agriculture based education outreach. Not only does the Center aim to provide students a memorable and tangible science experience, but the nonprofit also provides teachers resources through a summer courses titled Teacher Agricultural Science Technology Education Seminar which lets teachers to explore new scientific and agriculture based topics.

“The mobile lab is a great opportunity for the students to experience hands learning but they also educates teachers in the summer sessions which is great for us too,” said Angela DeTomasi, seventh grade math and science teacher at Dutcher.

This is the third year the Ag in Motion has established its presence at Dutcher Middle School and at no cost to the school, the mobile lab is enhancing education at schools across the County in what Dutcher principal Scott Lucas is calling an “extension of the classroom.”

“Our main focus is educational outreach and to get agriculture out there to people who want to work in all aspects of the industry. Our mission is to reach these kids and educate them about the opportunities in agriculture,” said Stolle.