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Fourth-graders learn about importance of grains in their lives

November 11, 2008|By BETH BUBACZ NICHOLS

Do you know how many servings of grains you should eat each day?

The Maryland Cooperative Extension-Washington County offers the Kids Growing with Grains program to Washington County public and private school fourth-graders with a hands-on learning experience on the importance of grains in their daily lives.

Schools may participate in the program in two ways: as a field trip to the Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville or in their classrooms. The students learn about grain production, grain utilization in livestock production and animal science, and the importance of grain products for good human nutrition.

On Oct. 15-16, approximately 330 youths and adults took part in the program at WMREC. Participating schools included Fountaindale, Clear Spring, Boonsboro, Hickory and Mt. Aetna. Each participant took part in activities at three stations around the research center.

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Station No. 1 - Grain Nutrition: students learned about MYPyramid; identified food products made from grains, and the nutritional value and health benefits of grain products. Experts agree that diets high in fat are associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Foods from the grain group contain little fat, while providing complex carbohydrates, which provide energy and other essential nutrients such as iron and B vitamins. At this station everyone made Bread in a Bag. This activity gave students the opportunity to share what they learned with their family. Each student was sent home with dough to be baked into a loaf of bread, furthering the educational outreach of Washington County Kids Growing with Grains.

Station No. 2 - Animal Science: the students learned about the different types of digestive systems between various livestock, the digestion process and the different uses for grains in animal feeds and roughages. Many of the children had never interacted with livestock, and this gave them the opportunity for a hands-on experience with a dairy cow from Linden Hall Farm.

Station No. 3 - Grain Production: the students learn the anatomy of a plant and developed an understanding of the difference between several grain seed characteristics. The students took a wagon ride to observe various crops in the fields at the research station to gain knowledge of plant composition as well as planting and harvesting techniques throughout the research farm. The hands-on activity for this station is to complete a grain mosaic using corn, soybeans, barley and wheat.

For the schools that were unable to attend the program at WMREC, 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator Beth Bubacz Nichols brought the program to the schools. Students participated by making a grain mosaic, and the bread in a bag activity with all educational components the same as the field trip program. Two hundred youth from Bester and Eastern Elementary Schools participated. Ms. Baker and Ms. Easterday from Bester baked their students' bread that day at school so that the children could enjoy it the next morning for breakfast.

If your school is interesting in participating next October, please contact Beth Bubacz Nichols at 301-791-1404.

Beth Bubacz Nichols is a 4-H Youth Development Extension educatort with Maryland Cooperative Extension. She is based in Washington County.

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