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Kingsley High School Students Inspire at Science Symposium

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

Do you know any farmers? How old are they?

That was the first question Kingsley senior Elli Mackenzie asked visitors to her Science Symposium station, "Who is the Next Generation of Agriculturalists?"

She found that many people say that all the farmers that come to mind first are old. Elli wants to change that. Her research and project focused on what it will take to mobilize the next generation of young agriculture professionals.

At the annual Science Symposium on December 8, Elliana, and students from biology, chemistry, environmental science, and robotics teamed up with community mentors to create projects aimed at solving tomorrow's biggest problems.

"I'm so passionate about agriculture because if we don't have a strong group of leaders in the new upcoming generation, we won't have a strong food source, and we won't have anyone to teach us new ways to strive in this industry," said Elli.

Students at the symposium were asked to solve a community need. Teachers and community members evaluated students using a special matrix that relied on answering a few key questions:

  • Did the project meet a community need?

  • How did the project relate to science?

  • What did the students learn?

  • How does the project relate to "life skills?"

Take a look at some of these inventive student projects!

Serafina Boonstra concocted all-natural cleaning products

Serafina's all-natural cleaning products have it all: they cost less than store-bought solutions and work just as well, if not better, plus, they're made without toxic ingredients.

"These cleaners are safe for kids and pets. Toxic chemicals are very popular in store-bought cleaners, especially aerosols. If you have babies or pets in your home, you want them to walk over carpets and floors that have been cleaned and won't harm their feet, or paws."

Ashton Harter harvested Chaga fungi to create a healing tincture

Local chaga fungi is purported to have a myriad of health benefits and practical applications, including fighting certain diseases and reducing inflammation. Ashton decided to craft a custom tincture using the foraged ingredient.

"When I was a kid, I kind of grew up in the woods. My aunt always kind of liked Chaga mushrooms. When I got an opportunity to make this project, I really thought about that and decided to make a Chaga tincture. I really wanted to tackle homemade medicine in place of more pharmaceutical methods, just because I think it's more sustainable and more green."

Alina Wood, 11th grade, repurposed feed bags into reusable pouches

Alina broke out the sewing machine for her project. With a few simple stitches and some zippers, she created a solution to reducing waste on her farm.

"I have four horses, a cow, two pigs, seven cats, five dogs, and a lot of chickens too. I just saw so many feed bags going to waste each time that we fed our animals and I just thought it would be good to you know, give back instead of just throwing things away. I'm not filling the landfill so much!"

Ava Patterson trapped beavers that were destroying her neighbor's property

Ava got a permit from the DNR to trap beavers when she learned that the fuzzy little creatures were causing serious damage to her neighbor's property.

"The beavers took a tree and crashed it right over my neighbor's fence. I had a lady, Nancy, who supported me. She wanted the beavers gone, they were ruining her home. She had an entire garden that they flooded," she said.

With the help of an experienced local trapper, she learned how to safely catch the beavers. At her science symposium table, she event displayed a few beaver pelts that she skinned herself.

Bryson Neugent, 11th grade, grew a mushroom that fights anxiety, dementia

"I've always really liked fungi and I love foraging. I love growing mushrooms but I don't enjoy eating them that much. This particular mushroom, Lion's Mane, helps fight off anxiety, depression, dementia, and it even helps regrow your brain cells. I was so blown away by it that I decided I just had to you know grow it, Mr. Scharp [environmental science and wilderness teacher] helped me do that."

Thank you to all of the Kingsley community members who attended the symposium and evaluated our students' presentations!

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