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Chase Stebbing studies the DNA that he extracted from a handful of strawberries.

Middle schoolers experience science at ARDC

Students enjoy hands-on learning from UNL professionals

Name That Poo. Batty For Weather. Triangle Taste Testing.   

Ten Wahoo Middle School 7th and 8th grade science club members recently had a chance to participate in these and other experiential classes at the Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDC) campus near Ithaca.  

The event presenters were current employees at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the areas of food science, natural resources, agronomy and technology.

Nick Oden and Mattie Pfeiffer dig in and begin to examine the plateful of cattle poop given to them by UNL agronomy instructors.
WMS Science Club members were allowed to choose three sessions to attend. One session found students smelling a variety of scents, hypothesizing what product might contain all three scents or flavors. For example, black licorice, clove and wintergreen flavors are included in root beer. Other students chose to examine different types of animal excrement, discovering facts about how the digestive systems in each animal works. (FACT: chicken excrement is two distinct colors due to the fact that it contains both urine and feces.)  

Students who attended the biofuels session got to "cook grass." The purpose of this session was to discover the different types of sugars like cellulose and starches inside of natural objects that could be used as potential fuel sources. Another group of students extracted DNA from strawberries and bananas. First of all, they created an extraction using salt, water and detergent. Then, after filtering the fruit juice and extraction, they added rubbing alcohol to the solution and were able to separate the DNA for identification.  

"It was cool to see the DNA," said 7th grader Caleb Groff. "And it smelled much better than the poop!"

Middle schoolers experience science at ARDC

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