Home Carroll County invests in modern STEM lab at county high school

Carroll County invests in modern STEM lab at county high school


educationAgriculture education programs aren’t that unusual in rural areas, but Carroll County High School’s modern STEM lab is taking agricultural learning to a new level.

STEM is a curriculum based on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The four subjects are integrated into other classes, and the lessons are real-world focused. The lab is among the first of its kind in the U.S., aligning STEM with agriculture. It was built with $500,000 in funding assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

STEM lab work often is conducted at the school’s crop and livestock farm on land donated by local farmers. Students have the opportunity to learn about agricultural careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields that go beyond traditional production.

CCHS student Dylan Phillips said the STEM lab is “going to help open many doors” for Carroll County students to “get into better colleges for chemistry and biology and everything that the STEM lab has given us the opportunities for.”

Students at the lab worked with Virginia Tech last fall to study plant diseases found in greenhouse crops. They ran DNA sequencing to identify the diseases and determine how to treat them. They also tested soil samples for nutrient content and bacteria and analyzed local water sources.

Additionally, they have learned about genetically modified organisms.
“They actually understand what they are and how they help us,” said STEM lab manager Rachelle Rasco. “They’re actually able to do some of the experiments that early biotechnologists did—doing things like extracting DNA and looking for GMO markers in plants. … Those are some of the things I didn’t see until college and maybe even grad school. But these students are getting exposed to it here in high school.”

The students still have classroom lectures and tests to take, but that’s combined with hands-on experience in the lab.

“Students in Carroll County are playing a role from the ground up, so to speak. They’re actually planting these crops in the field, actually understanding how to grow better products, understanding how to grow safer products, so they understand where our food comes from and they’ll play a role in the future of our food production in this country,” Rasco said.



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