Cow to Cone: Scottish college develops math agriculture course

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Ice cream photo: Getty Images/Sara Bolognini
Ice cream photo: Getty Images/Sara Bolognini

Related tags Dairy Ice cream Scotland

An education project aims to engage students on a new mathematics course with agriculture – and specifically the manufacture of milk and ice-cream.

SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) in Scotland has developed a new data resource through the Cow-to-Cone project, funded by Education Scotland, based on data from its Langhill dairy herd.

This resource, which includes animal production, environmental and economic data, will be used by students on the Higher Applications of Mathematics course, which was launched by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) last year to enable learners to develop mathematical, statistical and financial skills for everyday life.

The Langhill herd, based at SRUC’s Dairy Research and Innovation Centre, is the longest running dairy genetics experiment in the world. The herd of 200 cows is split into four sub-herds dependent on the animal’s genetics (either high or average genetic merit) and their feeding regime (Diet 1 or Diet 2).

The diets can range from comparisons of high energy versus standard energy to by-product versus homegrown diets, allowing an understanding of the role diet and genetics plays on production levels of the animals.

Holly Ferguson, precision dairying scientist at SRUC, who is running the project with systems researcher Maggie March, said, “The Cow-to-Cone resource aims to engage learners with agriculture and milk and ice-cream manufacture by demonstrating variation in production chains stemming from different dairy management systems and the environmental effects of these.

“It will equip the next generation of STEM learners and expand their knowledge of dairy farming.”

SRUC will deliver training sessions, facilitated by The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), on this new resource for secondary school teachers in February.

A face-to-face course will be held at the National Museum of Rural Life in East Kilbride on February 12, from 10:30am to 2:30pm.

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