Sharena Webb, a science teacher at Inman High School, recently completed the Seed to STEM workshop, an accredited science educators workshop sponsored by the Kansas Corn Commission. The Seed to STEM workshop provided 40 middle school and 40 high school science teachers with classroom lessons and lab exercises to teach about corn, biotechnology and ethanol.

Each teacher also received a kit with science lab materials and equipment valued at $500 to use in their classrooms.

“There is truly an amazing amount of science and technology in corn farming today. In the past three years, we’ve been able to reach about 170 Kansas science teachers. The level of energy and commitment from these teachers is amazing. Through this program, we are energizing science teachers and their students about the role science plays in agriculture,” according to Kansas Corn’s Director of Education, Sharon Thielen. “We think the connection between agriculture and science can spark new interest and understanding with teachers and their students.” The Kansas Corn Commission Seed to STEM workshops were held in Ottawa and the Wichita areas.

In the course of the two-day workshop, participants learned classroom and lab lessons on topics that included DNA decoding, micro-pipetting, corn fermentation, genetic modification, nutrient testing, distillation and more. In addition to learning about biotechnology and ethanol in the classroom and in the lab, the Seed to STEM teachers received first-hand experience by visiting a farm and an ethanol plant. During the farm visit teachers talked to farmers about how technology and science has transformed farming.

They also visited an ethanol plant to learn the role science plays in creating a renewable fuel from corn. The Ottawa class visited the farm of Charlie and Jessica Brunker and toured the East Kansas Agri Energy ethanol plant at Garnett. The Wichita class visited the MuCurry Brothers Farm and toured the Kansas Ethanol LLC ethanol plant at Lyons.

“The Seed to STEM workshop is one of the best workshops I have ever attended,” commented Ms. Webb. “Essentially, the Kansas Corn Commission equipped me with training and materials beneficial to relating science to agriculture using methods which support my goal to make science interesting and relevant to the students at Inman High School.”