Success StoryTeaching STEM Horse Lessons to 4th Graders

Teaching STEM Horse Lessons to 4th Graders

Author: Fernanda Camargo

Planning Unit: Animal and Food Sciences

Major Program: Equine

Outcome: Initial Outcome

I took a sabbatical in The Fall of 2019. I used this time to develop a STEM lesson plan to teach math to 4th grade students, using the horse as a model. The goals were 1/ to introduce horses to a group of kids that might otherwise not have a chance to learn about them, 2/ to spread a message of good will regarding agriculture in general, 3/ to exalt Kentucky’s flagship industry, and 4/ to recruit youth to join the 4-H Horse Program or other 4-H Programs in Kentucky.  

In July and August, I contacted all 4-H Youth Development County Agents, and asked to be put in contact with the school teachers and schools they usually work with. In addition, I contacted all principals and 4th grade teachers for Fayette County’s Public Schools directly, and spent the remainder of that time developing the lesson plan (with the help of Dr. Rebekah Epps, some horse industry professionals, as well as other UK colleagues), building the materials that go with it, and explaining the concept to teachers.  

The lesson plan consisted of teaching students about many aspects of agriculture, teaching about Secretariat and horses in general, measuring Secretariat’s stride length and comparing that to each of the student’s own stride length at the walk and jog, applying multiplication, division, and fraction, and, finally, learning about other ways we use math in agriculture. The lesson plan is easy to be replicated, and I have offered to share it with county agents.   

From September to the end of school semester in December, I taught the lesson plan to 934 4th grade students, in 31 classrooms, in 9 counties. The students and teachers really enjoyed the lesson. They were, obviously, in awe of the magnificence of Secretariat, were eager to learn more about horses, and were really engaged with the hands-on activities I had for them. 

Some teachers have requested that we offer this lesson every year, and other teachers asked for a “part 2” lesson for the Spring semester.  Some of the kids that attended the lesson contacted their extension office and were interested in joining the 4-H Horse Program in their counties. We had some plans for 2020b(Central Kentucky Horse Farm Experience that was supposed to take place in May 2020), but with COVID, our plans had to be postponed. Hopefully, we will be able to deliver the lesson again in 2021, and start to plan for the follow-up, part 2, lesson.  

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