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MSU Tollgate offers virtual farm school for teachers, students
Published: 9/14/2020
A virtual classroom series with MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center dubbed "Learning Fresh From the Farm" is designed for students to explore natural resources and agriculture while learning about sustainability and the environment.

Aligned with literacy, math, and next generation science standards, programs utilize inquiry place-based learning. Life cycles and system interdependency are revealed as students virtually visit the fields, forest, greenhouse, and farm animals to investigate science phenomena taking place on the farm.

Virtual series with Tollgate Farm are scheduled September through early June and cost $250 for five weekly visits for up to 50 students. For questions or to tailor a program to meet your teaching goals, please email Ellen Koehler at koehle43@msu.edu. You can find additional program information here.

Virtual visits from MSU Tollgate Education Center education staff provide experiential learning all year long. Weekly or week-long virtual learning series offered this fall include:
  • The Secret Life of Trees (Grades K-2) October 5, 12, 19, 26, & November 2 10 a.m. This fall, we'll explore the secret life of trees as we investigate big ideas - how trees have unique and diverse life cycles and how they have amazing structures and functions that help them survive and grow. Do trees compete or cooperate as they use resources in their own environment to survive. Which trees grow at Tollgate Farm and why? How are they alike and different from the trees in the students yard, park, or schoolyard. Aligned with literacy, math, and Next Generation Science Standards, students will get to know trees up close and personal. Interact with MSU Tollgate Farm staff, visit the fields and gardens, engage in STEM challenges, and learn about how we are a part of the same ecosystem as the trees around us and how we can give back to the trees that provide so much for us. 
  • Follow the Nutrient Trail (Grades 3-5) October 8, 15, 22, 29 & November 5 1 p.m. How do plants and animals depend on their parts and on other living things to help them survive? Let’s follow the nutrient trail of consumers, producers, and decomposers as we meet our goats, chickens, and red wiggler friends, the worms! Visiting the garden, greenhouse, orchard, and animal barn, students will investigate how plants depend on animals and insects for their survival and how the energy of the sun and nutrients travel through the nutrient cycle. As they look at the interdependence of living things on the farm, students interact with Tollgate Farm staff as they question, hypothesize, experiment, analyze data, conclude and question again through hands-on STEAM challenges. 
Some of the exciting aspects of virtual learning journeys on the farm include:
  • Investigate science phenomena happening on the farm.
  • Connect to place and integrate with community-based service learning projects.
  • Connect to MSU education staff and MSU Extension educators.
  • Explore how plants and animals prepare for the coming season.
  • Visit the animals virtually and learn about their role on the farm.
  • Spend time in the classroom doing investigations related to our visit. 
  • Explore life cycles and how plants and animals use their internal and external systems to survive.
Program availability is on a first come, first served basis. Schools should register early to secure their spot. Intensive week-long series may be available on request if dates are available. Large virtual farm visits available for schools on request. For information regarding our financial aid process, see our website.