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Mobile science lab makes first trip to Turlock
ag in motion 1
Ag in Motion, a new agriculture mobile classroom, visited Turlock for the first time ever this week at Dutcher Middle School. The trailer was designed by the National Ag Science Center in Modesto to introduce Central Valley seventh graders to ag-related careers in science. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Ag in Motion, a 53-foot state-of-the-art mobile trailer classroom, visited seventh grade students at Dutcher Middle School in Turlock this week. The mobile classroom was unveiled in late June of this year by the National Ag Science Center in Modesto.

The free mobile classroom experience features 20 laboratory stations, complete with microscopes and lesson plans designed around the seventh grade science curriculum for California schools. The lab can hold up to 36 students and one teacher.

For students at Dutcher the experience in the ag trailer was a break from the classroom environment.

“We are bringing the field trip to the students. So far we’ve received phenomenal feedback — schools want us to comeback because for the kids this is an awesome experience,” said Michele Laverty, director of the National Ag Science Center.

The goal of AIM is to introduce agriculture into what seventh graders are learning in their curriculum and to display the many ag-related career opportunities in the Central Valley.

There are five labs held inside AIM and labs are selected by a classroom’s teacher or school. Labs are taught by a certified seventh grade science teacher and the curriculum includes bug anatomy, light with chromatography, seed dispersal, a DNA extraction from a strawberry and plant identification. Following a lab lesson, which is held in the same amount of time as a regular class period, students watch a short video about ag-related career opportunities.

Dutcher math and science teacher Eli Ruiz praised the AIM program.

“It is nice to give the kids a new perspective and to have this resource available to supplement what we teach out of the book. The kids love it and this is like a field trip for them,” he said.

In the coming months AIM will visit Turlock Junior High and Turlock Christian. Laverty said she is working with Turlock High School to have FFA students visit the trailer with seventh graders.

In the past year the project raised nearly $250,000 to make the trailer a reality. The majority of the money has come from private and corporate donations. Some of the largest donations came from Wal-Mart and Rabobank, which together donated nearly $97,000 for the trailer.

“Ag In Motion is a remarkable offering for schools and students throughout the Central Valley, particularly in this tough economy,” said Wal-Mart Senior Vice President of the Pacific Division Kimberly Sentovich.

For more information, visit the National Ag Science Center website at:

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 623-9141 ext. 2015.