Friday, February 23, 2024

‘Grow’ game plants a seed with students

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Agri-focused board game sparks classroom engagement in sector topics.
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Preparations for National Certificate of Educational Achievement exams looked a little different for many students across New Zealand this year, thanks to a new agri-focused board game.

Developed as part of a joint initiative between Rabobank, Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki Lincoln University and the Agribusiness in Schools Programme, the new Grow board game was created to support learning by Year 11 students studying NCEA Agribusiness and Agricultural & Horticultural Science. 

It covers all the major topics in the relevant curriculum and provides students with a fun way to learn and reinforce course content.

Following more than two years of development and production, 550 sets of the Grow board game were delivered to secondary schools taking part in the Agribusiness in Schools Programme early in Term Four.

“It’s been a long time in the making, but it’s great to now have the game being used in schools across New Zealand,” Rabobank NZ chief executive Todd Charteris said.

“We’ve had plenty of feedback coming in on the game over recent weeks and it’s been really heartening to hear it’s proven popular with teachers and students.”

The new game touches on a host of subjects, including biosecurity, soil composition, waterways, key agri terms, biodiversity, biological processes, animal behaviours, weather patterns and agricultural production by region. It also incorporates elements of Mātauranga Māori.

Agricultural & Horticultural Science teacher Anthea Garmey from Motueka High School – one of the more than 125 secondary schools that received the game – said she’d used Grow throughout Term Four with her Year 11 and 12 students.

“It’s a fantastic game and the students engaged with it straight away,” she said.

“Since the games arrived, I’ve often had students come into class and ask if they can play the game, and then they will quite happily play it for the whole period.

“Everyone really loves it and has learnt lots from playing the game. And the real bonus is that the content is all very relevant for their assessment.”

Garmey said game questions had prompted some excellent discussions among her Agricultural & Horticultural Science students.

Given the positive initial feedback from her students, said she’d be looking to make use of the game as part of her session planning in 2024.

Agricultural Science teacher Anita Taylor from Paraparaumu College – another of the high schools to receive Grow – said students in her Agricultural Science class had really enjoyed the new game.

“I used the game with my Year 11 students as revision before their agriculture exam and it worked really well,” she said.

“The students found the questions quite challenging, but even the students who don’t often speak up in class seemed engaged and very interested in hearing the answers to the questions.”

Charteris said the idea for the game came about following discussions between Rabobank’s Upper South Island Client Council – a group of the bank’s clients who meet regularly to discuss the challenges facing the agri sector – and Lincoln University.

“Our client councils have identified long-term industry capacity as one of the key challenges facing the agricultural sector and over recent years our Upper South Island Council has worked closely alongside Lincoln University to develop initiatives to highlight to school students the range of career opportunities within the sector,” he said.

“One of the topics that has regularly come up in conversations between our council and Lincoln University is the need for more resources to support learning about food production at the secondary school level and, as a result, it was decided the two parties would collaborate to develop a new board game that would help shine a light on the wide array of knowledge and skills required to run a successful farming operation.”

Charteris said both parties felt it was essential to align the content of the game with the NCEA curriculum, so they reached out to Kerry Allen and Melanie Simmons from the Agribusiness in Schools Programme to help with the design process.

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