The 21st Century Equipment Stem Mobile Learning Lab is on the road and visiting schools. To bring agriculture to seventh and eighth graders in the Panhandle of Nebraska and eastern Wyoming.
The lab operated by Jason Stratman, director of learning and leadership development at 21st Century Equipment, was recently at the Bluffs Middle School in Scottsbluff.
“I wanted to bring them in because we at career explorations were learning about the agriculture field and careers in ag,” said Makenzie Koncaba, career exploration teacher at BMS. “I wanted him to show the kids that it’s not just about like old school stuff, but wanted them to see the newest technology that was out there.”
The 40-foot mobile lab is an enclosed trailer equipped with workstations that can be used in place or detached and moved into the classrooms as needed. Stratman runs the lab and the learning sessions with the students. The hands-on sessions give students a better idea of the machinery and technology on farms. Stratman uses math and science the students are learning and demonstrates with pivot tires, motors, and drones, how it will aid them in technology careers.
“One big thing is I think it’s hard for kids to see connections, especially when they are at that seventh and eighth-grade level trying to understand the importance of a circumference. Well, it’s our base of pivot irrigation and gear ratios for motors to work. So our job is to help them see that connection,” Stratman said.
After learning about the technology and getting some hands-on experience with various materials and tools. The students are asked about STEM and how it played a role in what they just learned.
“When they (students) went back and thought about the math concepts and the science concepts, the kids were shocked, ‘oh my gosh,’ this stuff really does matter to me, and it is important for me to know for my future,” said Koncaba.
21st Century Equipment operates and maintains the lab. Construction began and was completed in 2022, after which the lab started visiting schools in November.
“Agriculture gets more and more complex we’re seeing a lot of artificial intelligence, robotics other technologies becoming very commonplace in our tractors and combines today,” said Owen Palm, CEO of 21st Century Equipment. “So we’re looking for kids that have an interest in that so that we have people that can actually repair and operate this equipment that we’ve got today.”
Stratman has taken the lab to about nine schools and worked with around 300 students.
The lab was showcased at a public event on Dec. 5, at the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds in Mitchell.
Schools interested in having the 21st Century Equipment STEM Mobile Learning Lab visit should contact Stratman at STEM@21stcenturyequip.com.