WASHINGTON, D.C. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has launched a fun, new online platform for middle-school educators highlighting makerspace education.

The Purple Plow Challenge site encourages students to research scenarios related to food, hunger and sustainability. Students also are encouraged to build their own prototypes to solve problems. The resources – provided for facilitators, students and volunteers – are written by teachers, aligned to national learning standards and reviewed by industry experts.

“The Purple Plow Challenge is a great fit for individuals, groups and classes in grades 6, 7 and 8. It’s perfect for makerspaces, after-school programs, in-school lessons, 4-H clubs, library learning, scout troops and more,” said Angela Mayfield, education director of the Foundation.

The Purple Plow Challenge contest will run seasonally beginning in January 2017. Interested teachers, mentors and students should check out the website (www.purpleplowchallenge.org) after Jan. 1 for the announcement of the spring Purple Plow challenge. Resources will be available for free download. Spring submissions are due May 1. See the website for complete details.

“The Purple Plow Challenge was designed to support maker learning everywhere,” Mayfield explained. “The maker movement hinges on the concept that young people learn, and have fun learning, when they can solve a problem and share their solution with others.

“Critical thinking associated with making and solving problems is just as important as the end result,” Mayfield said. “Makerspaces and maker challenges encourage kids to be excited about solving problems while applying the knowledge they gain.”

Purple Plow is a special project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The resources are made possible through the generous support of the title sponsor, DuPont Pioneer.

Follow along in the journey on Twitter and Instagram @ThePurplePlow.