Abby Marten, a student in the University of Illinois Champaign, is serving this year as the Illinois Corn Marketing Board Ag-in-the-Classroom Summer Ag Institute intern. In her role, she creates new classroom materials to help students and their families learn about Illinois' #1 crop: corn.
Abby has already attended over a dozen summer ag institutes.
Here's a look at some of the material and resources she shares. You may want to bookmark these links for discussions you have personally.
CORN STARCH PUTTY
1 ½ cup cornstarch
2 cups water
1 cup salt
½ cup flour
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tblsp vegetable oil
Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture gathers on stirring spoon and forms dough (6 minutes). Turn onto waxed paper until cool enough to handle, knead to form a ball. Store in covered container or plastic bag. Food coloring may be added.
BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC FROM CORN
Paper cup or Plastic bag
Place a tablespoon of cornstarch in a paper cup or plastic bag. Add 2 drops of corn oil to the cornstarch. Add a tablespoon of water to oil and cornstarch. Stir. Add 2 drops of food coloring to the mixture and stir.
This is biodegradable plastic. You can:
1. Shape it and let it harden.
2. Break it down by dissolving it in water.
GROWING CORN EXPERIMENT
Think you need a big field to grow corn? Think again! With just a few common household items and some corn kernels, you can be on your way to growing corn in the classroom or at home. Just follow these simple instructions:
What you will need: (per person)
Five to six corn kernels
One sandwich-size zipper-lock bag
1. Wet a paper towel completely, and then wring out excess water.
2. Put five to six corn kernels in the center of the paper towel. (Using this many kernels will increase the chances of sprouting.)
3. Put the paper towel and the kernels in the zipper-lock bag so that the kernels can be seen. Close the bag and label it.
4. Lay the bag in a place exposed to natural daylight or a grow lamp, where you can observe it.
5. Check on the bag regularly, water the kernels and watch the corn grow. (When the corn grows too tall for the bag, unzip the top.)
CORN STARCH PLAY DOUGH
2 Cups Baking Soda (1 box)
1 Cup Cornstarch
1 1/2 Cups Water
1. Add color to water.
2. Combine baking soda and cornstarch in a pot, then add water to the powdered mixture.
3. Cook on medium heat until the dough forms a ball. Cool and knead.