Virtual Reality Farming?

November 14th, 2018

On Thursday and Friday, November 8th and 9th, 3rd grade students at Empresa Elementary School had the opportunity to experience the “Seed Survivor” mobile learning unit, a partnership between agriculture company Nutrien and the California Foundation For Agriculture In The Classroom, an organization that “provides teachers in California with with resources and programs that teach students about the land that feeds, clothes, and shelters them.”

Students started their learning outside with an introduction to growing healthy plants before dividing into groups for further learning.

The mobile unit, which visits several schools each week, spent two days at Empresa providing an interactive experience for students to learn about how food is grown, and the benefits of caring for our land and food sources. Students began their time gathered outside the trailer to learn about soil, plant nutrients and the ideal conditions for growing healthy food. They looked at various types of soils and examined those where foods can best grow, and learned how to care for soil and land. They were also able to plant a sunflower that they then took home.

The Fossil Find station was a popular stop to dig for treasure.

Searching for fossils is hands-on work.

Students had a chance to plant a sunflower seed to bring home and care for.

Students learned that a small percentage of the Earth’s surface is suitable for growing food for the world’s population.

Inside the trailer was a bevy of activities for kids, including touch screen games and lessons and a virtual reality game station where students had to tend to a crop, Balancing water, nutrients and maintenance for the crop in an allotted amount of time.

Empresa 3rd grade teacher Kim Arvidson said that experiences like this helps students, “to understand the importance of farming. And I love the visual they showed where there is such a slim margin of land that can produce plants and crops. I think it helps our students understand that and know exactly where their food is coming from.”

The Seed Survivor mobile classroom is packed with touch screens, videos and other interactive learning stations.

The visit started with an email about the opportunity from WaveCrest Cafe’s Amy Haessly, a Registered Dietitian and VUSD’s Nutrition Education & Training Supervisor. Mrs. Arvidson and her colleagues submitted a proposal for the grant to bring the unit to the school.

All six 3rd grade classes at Empresa participated in the visit. Mrs. Arvidson hopes to grow several of the exhibit’s sunflowers in the school garden as a reminder to students of the activity and what they learned. “Kids are going to see a giant sunflower grow, and so just seeing that from seed to finally producing that amazing plant is going to be such a great experience for the students.”



Pressing a button triggers a rain shower where students see how water travels and nourishes landscapes.

A virtual reality station allows students to have an immersive gaming experience tending for a garden plot.