Ideas sprouted in the minds of teachers when they visited a vegetable seed producer in Modesto.
Harris-Moran Seed Co. was among the stops this week in a four-day program on how to work farm-based science into their lessons.
"I would never have thought we had that many kinds of tomatoes," said Sondra Dupuy, an after-school program paraprofessional at Sierra Middle School in Stockton. "There are 20 kinds."
The fifth annual Teacher Agricultural Science Technology Education Seminars, or TASTES, is put on by the people behind the Ag Science Center, an interpretive museum planned for Modesto Junior College.
Dozens of teachers are taking part in the program, which this year includes lessons on energy as well as ag. They came from as far away as Imperial County.
The teachers have peered through microscopes at plant cells, studied genetics and learned about the work of the National Weather Service.
They have heard from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and toured the solar electricity plant being built by SunPower Corp. on north McHenry Avenue for the Modesto Irrigation District.
The teachers are urged to spread the knowledge to their students with hands-on lessons.
"If they can show and tell, they're more inclined to analyze it," Dupuy said.
Whitney Young, a science teacher at El Portal Middle School in Escalon, said agriculture is a great way to get her lessons across.
"If there's no connection, they don't tend to remember what's going on," she said.
During one session, the teachers compared the nutritional needs of humans and livestock, getting to know the animals in the process.
"It's a chance for some of our teachers to hold a chicken for the first time," said Kathe Poteet, a retired science coordinator for Modesto City Schools, who helped plan the program.
It ends today with tours of a few farms and the Farm to Table dinner, a local-food feast at Four Seasons Farms in west Modesto. The dinner will raise money for the Ag in Motion trailer, which has provided science lessons to seventh-graders since last year.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.