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12-9-19 — Science Teachers Complete Innovative Seed to STEM Program

Dec. 9, 2019 ~ Jason Paepke and Adam Goad, science teachers at Prairie Trail and California Trail respectively, recently completed the Seed to STEM workshop sponsored by the Kansas Corn Commission. The Seed to STEM workshop provided 18 middle 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,” said Kansas Corn’s Director of Education Sharon Thielen. “In the past four years, we’ve been able to reach about 240 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.  We think the connection between agriculture and science can spark new interest and understanding with teachers and their students.”

photo of Seed to STEM participants in front of the ethanol plant The Kansas Corn Commission Seed to STEM workshop was held on the Kansas State University Olathe campus. In the course of the two-day workshop, participants learned classroom and lab lessons on topics that included DNA decoding, micropipetting, 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 the American Royal and an ethanol plant. In partnership with the American Royal, teachers received a tour of the facility, watched a horse show and visited with corn producers during dinner. On day two they visited East Kansas Agri Energy ethanol plant in Garnett to learn the role science plays in creating a renewable fuel from corn.

“This was an amazing two days of hands-on learning and learning how corn is grown and used to produce ethanol. It was eye-opening to see the process at the plant in Garnett,” Paepke said. “We came away with multiple activities that could be implemented into our classrooms immediately thanks to the lab equipment that was provided to us at the end of the conference.”

Teachers who didn’t participate in the workshops can still benefit from the Seed to STEM curriculum. Lessons are available online at

(Photo: Adam Goad, fifth from left, and Jason Paepke, eighth from right, participated in the Seed to STEM program and visited an ethanol plant in Garnett.)