OAK HILL — Science took on a whole new meaning Thursday as students from Saints Peter & Paul Catholic School were able to step outside of the classroom and into a more agriculturally diverse atmosphere brought to them by the West Virginia Farm Bureau's Mobile Agriculture Education Science Lab.
The 40-foot mobile lab is a self-contained unit equipped with multiple research stations for students to take part in hands-on experiments
The lab travels to all 55 counties throughout the year with a retired or certified teacher on deck to assist students in their experiments. This year's lab teacher, Sandra Kraynok, reported this is her second year working in the mobile lab, and she said it's such a great opportunity to get students exposed to the agriculture or farm life.
As Kraynok walked up and down the aisle of the lab, assisting students, she said more often than not students don't really understand where their food comes from.
"And that's why we do this. When you ask most kids where their food comes from they say Wal-Mart," she said with a laugh. "But there is so much more to it than that, and exposing them to what impacts agriculture has on their everyday life is really important."
Kraynok assisted students with making plastic from corn starch during Thursday's activity. She said students often are amazed when they find out what agriculture can do.
Corn starch plastic wasn't the only activity students took part in, though. They also participated in experiments involving soy beans and how to make butter by testing which milk products better assist in the process.
Those involved in the mobile lab said the experiments help students learn how to read nutrition labels, discover healthy snacks, and what food choices help promote healthy lifestyles.
The mobile lab has been at the school for a whole week. One popular experiment was making "Glue from Milk" and comparing it to commercial glue. Others were understanding the concept of environmental impact by making plastic from corn instead of petroleum, and examining and comparing natural and man-made super absorbent products.
Students Bean Dean, Amya Grasty and Natalie Craddock all said the glue from milk experiment was their favorite.
"We were able to test to see which types of glue was better with different ingredients," Ben said. "It was definitely really cool."
Amya and Natalie both agreed the glue made from milk without any Elmer's Glue in it was the best.
"The milk definitely helped make a better glue," Amya added. "It was easier to use."
Natalie said she thought the experiment was really cool, and the glue made from milk was much easier to use in projects.
"It dried a lot quicker and wasn't as runny," she said.
Younger students at the school were also able to take part in the mobile science lab experiments by measuring the length of different types of gummy worms, then getting a tasty treat right afterwards.
Students Clara Swank and Preston Williams both enjoyed playing with the gummy worms, but said it was cool to have the teacher in the lab teach them about all different types of worms.
"I had never really done a science experiment before," Preston said. "It was really fun to learn about."
Clara said although this wasn't her first time taking part in an experiment, she really enjoyed it. "One time I made a mini volcano explode, and that was really cool, just like this was. I really like it."
The school's art and science teacher, Shannon Dean, said she had been working on getting the mobile science lab to their school for the last year.
Dean said from the time she heard about it, she knew she wanted the lab to come to their school. She said it's an important learning experience.
"They're learning where stuff comes from, what byproducts come from different commodities and that's typically not always stuff they learn in school," she added. "We really wanted to teach our students how science impacts our every day life."
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