Aug. 6 2014 08:44 AM

Educational games share agriculture's story.


"Corn is grown in every state and on six continents." That is just one of the agriculture facts state fair attendees could learn in the American Farm Bureau's booth in the Discovery Barnyard. At the Wisconsin State Fair, I volunteered for a four-hour stint and oversaw the four tablets that allowed fair attendees to learn about agriculture with "My American Farm." I was very impressed with how engaged the youth (and their parents) were. One young girl, after answering a few of the counting exercises correctly, turned to her mom who had been helping her and with newly found confidence said, "Mom, I got this!" noting that she did not need any assistance and wanted to do it herself.

There are some really cool features to My American Farm. Does it sound like I am still promoting the game to fairgoers? But, seriously, this game, and I use that term loosely, is educational, yet fun.

At the fair, we used tablets – younger players like the finger swiping effect, but a mouse or touchpad on a laptop or desktop computer works just as well.

Fractions. Word problems. Not favorites of kids, but when presented in an engaging manner, such as following an apple pie recipe or counting grain scoops, is stimulating learning. The recipes can be downloaded for more family interaction.

And there is sound! Applauding and bells ringing for correct answers as well as earning fun facts (ag statistics) and badges.

The videos are awesome. A Virginia corn grower, whose yields were tops in the nation, shares his story. The emphasis on caring for the land, water, stewardship and the technology he uses to grow corn, soybeans and barley were interesting – even to me, someone well-versed in agriculture.

A few games focused on geography – "Ag across America" and "Where in the World?" These games helped players discover ag facts around the globe with vibrant photos and interesting histories.

Want to investigate careers in ag? Dress your avatar as a veterinarian, researcher or logger. There are a dozen careers featured. Answer questions about what you think they do in their job and then hear from them about their career.

The skill level needed can vary from kindergarten and higher. In addition to the 19 games for kids, there are activities for parents and teachers to utilize as well. I can see "My American Farm" used in day cares, schools, homes and in the car on trips. A great way to teach ag (and refresh some) in an upbeat manner. There are more games than I detailed, so go discover for yourself and share with others! "My American Farm."

Hurtgen blog footer

The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.