Exploring our new theme “Biodiversity and Agriculture” outside the classroom: a visit to the Campus Wiesengut ecological farm

The start of the 2023/2024 school year brought a good dose of inspiration to our Open Science Community (OSC) in Germany, where our partners from the University of Bonn kicked off the activities of their new MULTIPLIERS theme “Biodiversity and Agriculture”. In the past year, our German OSC focused on the topic of Vaccination, and is now further developing and testing their approach to Open Schooling by introducing students to another socio-scientific issue. The new theme will focus on key concepts in biodiversity and agriculture among younger elementary school students and delve deeper into the interplay between agriculture, food security and biodiversity conservation among older students.

The theme presents a perfect opportunity for students to learn outside the classroom, which coincides with the potato harvesting season. That is why, last week, two third-grade and two fourth-grade classes visited the Campus Wiesengut, an ecological teaching and research farm operated by the University of Bonn in the municipality of Hennef which engages in ecological farming, producing items such as grain, potatoes, and beef. The students got to learn about the farm, different types of grains and potatoes. They had the opportunity to taste wheat, rye and oats and learn to differentiate them from other grains.

Following that, they harvested the potatoes from the field, cleaned, measured, and weighed them. The students were allowed to take their own harvest home. They also collected insects, learned about them, and took a wagon ride across the fields of Wiesengut, where they even got to feed the cattle with leftover potatoes. One class also had the opportunity to act as “child reporters,” filming on their own and conducting interviews with experts.

The students had already studied potatoes and their growth at school. Now, they will conduct experiments with their own harvest and have a potato-tasting event on the Doors Open Day at their school the upcoming Saturday. The children will visit Wisengut again in April and June to see the farm during different seasons.

Stay tuned for more updates on our new theme!