AgSTEM workshops showcase digital ag to students

Senior students from Derrinallum P-12 College recently spent a day at the Hamilton SmartFarm learning about capturing imagery from ground, air and space as part of Agriculture Victoria’s ‘Get into AgSTEM program’.

Agriculture Victoria Community Education Manager Anna-Leisa Vietz said students toured the SmartFarm to learn from scientists working on new cropping and forage technologies.

“The day included a ‘hands on’ science workshop where students constructed and trialled digital soil moisture sensors and learnt about digital data collection, processing and precision agriculture applications to save important resources such as water to minimise environmental impacts.

“They were able to see first-hand how sensor technologies are being used in the field to measure pasture biomass and nutritive characteristics,” she said.

“They also enjoyed seeing a remotely piloted ground vehicle in action, a field-spec instrument capturing data on plant characteristics and hear about drones which are now routinely used in Agriculture Victoria’s pasture research.”

Ms Vietz said ‘Get into AgSTEM’ is a free education program designed and delivered by Agriculture Victoria and linked to the curricula of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

“The program is made up of workshops run at AgriBio and SmartFarms across the state, which showcase Agriculture Victoria’s research and innovation initiatives and so far in 2023 the program has delivered workshops in Hamilton, Tatura, Ellinbank and our AgriBio Centre in Bundoora, as well as being offered online.

Ms Vietz said as a result of this year’s program teachers from Derrinallum P-12 College, Greater Shepparton Secondary College and Cathedral College Wangaratta came together to write a School Assessed Coursework (SAC) based on the digital agriculture workshop.

“For us this was a great endorsement of the program and how it’s working in with real-life to help students identify and prepare for a career in AgSTEM.”

She said the research division of Agriculture Victoria is perfectly positioned to provide real-life context to assist teachers to meet technical criteria set out in the curricula.

“For example, the Get into Digital Agriculture workshop, designed around the Digital Technologies curriculum, can also be used to meet the ‘innovations, technology and data’ section of the Agricultural and Horticultural VCE Study Design.”

The workshop provides the schools’ community with both the technical content and the interesting context of real-world problems that Agriculture Victoria researchers are working to solve,” Ms Vietz said.

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