Students at Waukee APEX, the Innovation and Learning Center, are performing the kinds of agricultural experiments you might expect to see at places like Pioneer in Johnston! The Waukee Community Schools Foundation provided a classroom grant to Holly Showalter, Ph.D., a Research Instructor at APEX, to purchase plant growth racks and supplies. Students started using them last year during business-partner projects with Kemin Industries and student-designed projects.
The racks and supplies enabled student associates to design projects related to agriculture and plant growth. One student project looked at the effect of household item-based fertilizer on corn seed germination rates. Students were able to test the effects of several household fertilizers, including lemon juice, grapefruit juice, and Epsom salt. This project won 4th place at the 2019 Iowa Junior Academy of Science Conference in April at the University of Northern Iowa.
Currently, Showalter has a student associate designing an experiment to look at turfgrass density with and without certain fertilizers.
Showalter said her students think it’s pretty cool to have this their lab environment because they are working with things that professionals would work with at a plant or agriculture research lab.