As part of our collaborating classrooms program with Lanigan Elementary, Tollgate education staff was very excited to host one of our first virtual classroom visits.
Prior to the school visiting the farm for the first time, our team traveled to the school and embarked on a schoolyard investigation with the 1st grade class. We brought with us tools to gather weather data, equipment to construct rain gauges with the students, and a few friends from the barn for students to observe their physiology and behavior.
The focal point of the 1st grade program was to interpret weather and determine different ways that life on the farm adapts to various conditions, so we have continuously incorporated this theme and carried it through our many lessons.
In the fall, Lanigan 1st graders had the opportunity to experience life on the farm by visiting with and caring for the animals, and exploring Tollgate to carry out their weather investigations. Students got comfortable using weather tools such as anemometers to read the wind speed and laser guns that read the temperature.
They also got to station rain gauges in multiple locations around the farm. This gave the opportunity for students to compare their readings from their school rain gauges to the data collected here at Tollgate.
After a long winter, we were all eagerly anticipating the chance to revisit all of these wonderful lessons and make some conclusions about animal adaptations and weather. Students gathered in the media center of the school to tune in to a Zoom session broadcasted live from the farm.
As we prepared to begin the Zoom session, the teachers prompted for questions that the students might have and 1st graders eagerly shared their inquiries about what was happening on the farm that day.
We began by showing students their rain gauges and giving them the opportunity to read their rainfall data. The readings varied quite a bit depending on the location they were placed, so students were able to make some predictions about why we were seeing these differences.
They also shared their readings from the classroom, which were quite different from our readings at Tollgate, and this was an interesting point to reflect on as well. After sharing our conclusions, students were very excited to head out to the animal barn, so off we went on a gater ride to see the animals, bringing the students along with us on the iPad and Padcaster.
We first visited the chicken coop and made observations about the roosters and hens, and also counted the number of eggs in the coop. While still outside, we prompted the students to make predictions about the weather and share what they were noticing about the current conditions.
Using the anemometer and temperature laser, we got our readings and then questioned students if they think the animals would prefer to be inside the barn or out in the pasture. Based on the chilly temps and high winds, they voted that more animals would be in the barn, so we headed inside to see if this hypothesis was correct.
Upon stepping into the barn, we encountered some animals that the students had not yet seen or interacted with – baby lambs! They were huddling around their heat pads to stay warm, and some were even adorned with sweaters, so students were able to reflect on this as well.
We also spent some time with the goats, mama sheep, and more baby lambs before wrapping up the visit with some final weather measurements. It was a few degrees warmer in the barn, and as students predicted, we were shielded from the wind. We concluded by counting all of the animals we saw in the barn, and this further proved that most of the animals were definitely choosing to stay inside with these current weather conditions.
This visit provided a wonderful opportunity for students to further expand upon their knowledge gained during the previous field trip and make conclusions from our previous investigations. Students were incredibly engaged and had excellent observations and questions throughout, and we look forward to working with them again this spring when they come back to Tollgate for the final element of collaborating classrooms.