Science

Kit Carson Elementary fourth-grader Correlia Lovings checks out her mix of corn stach, water, corn oil and food coloring after it was microwaved to make biodegradable corn plastic Thursday while visiting the Kentucky Departent of Agriculture's Mobile Science Activity Center. Students removed the plastic from the bag to make a ball.

Science class was a little different Thursday for fourth-grade students at Kit Carson Elementary.

The school received a visit from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Mobile Science Activity Center, a 42-foot-long trailer with 10 workstations to provide opportunities for students to conduct investigations about agriculture and the environment.

Using supplied materials, the students made biodegradable corn plastic balls to take home.

“It was fun because it was hands-on and we got to do lots of different things,” said 10-year-old Brianna Ritchison. “It was interesting. I hope at home now I can do it and show my mom.”

Elleigh McDaniel, who will be turning 10 this weekend, also said she hoped to share the knowledge she gained at the center.

“My mom’s a teacher here at Kit Carson, and I could teach her how to do this,” she said. “Then she could teach her kids how to do it so they can go home and teach their older brother or sister.”

The process involved mixing corn starch, water, food coloring and corn oil in a plastic bag before heating it in a microwave and shaping the material into a ball.

“I learned that you could make plastic out of corn oil,” said 10-year-old Justin Ferris. “My favorite part was rolling the (plastic) ball. We had to roll it and squish it.”

An added benefit of the science center is that the activities are designed to go with the core content from the Kentucky Department of Education, said Vivian Bowles, Kit Carson fourth-grade science teacher.

“We learn by doing,” she said. “It’s the best way to learn. We see. We hear. We get our hands in it and tell someone else how we did. It’s complete learning.”

Bowles said the program also teaches the students about recycling — an issue that is big at the school.

“We’re really trying to become environmentally friendly,” she said. “We had a group of students last year who spoke to the school board and the school council about reducing the amount of Styrofoam used in our school. Now, in our cafeteria, we don’t even use plastic forks anymore.

“Really, this is the generation that’s going to have to save us,” Bowles said. “This is just another way to do that.”

The Mobile Science Activity Center, sponsored by the Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom, has visited more than 100 schools and 30,000 students annually the past six years.

The center will make a stop today at Bluegrass Christian School.

“The whole idea is to introduce raw agricultural products to kids through science experiments,” said John Dyehouse of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. “It’s so they understand that Corn Flakes don’t come from Kroger. There’s a little more to it than just going and picking it up at the store. There’s a farmer and a whole process that goes into it.”

“With the price of diesel fuel for schools, it’s almost impractical for schools to take kids on a field trip,” he said. “Why not bring a field trip to them? They’re getting to teach the kids, and they’re having fun. It’s a benefit all around.”

Bryan Marshall can be reached at bmarshall@richmondregister.com or 624-6691.

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