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WSU researchers create gel to keep fields healthy during drought

WSU researchers create gel to keep fields healthy during drought

Washington State University researchers have created a product that could help farmers keep their fields moist during a drought.

Led by Associate Professor Jinwen Zhang, the group created hydrogel pellets similar to the super absorbent material used in diapers. The main difference is what they're made of. While diapers rely on petrolium based gel, WSU researchers have created one out of soy protein.

The pellets swell to hold 250 times their weight in water, and because they are made of biodegradable agricultural material instead of chemicals they leave no residue behind when they disintegrate in the ground. In fact, the soy protein can actually act as a source of nitrogen to help plants grow.

A soy-based product would also lessen dependence on foreign oil imports, and boos the local economy since the U.S. Produces half of the world supply of soy beans.

New round of Washington charter proposals begins

Organizations that want to open a charter school in Washington state have until the end of the day on Friday to turn in a form that says they plan to apply to the statewide charter commission.

As of Thursday afternoon, five letters of intent had been posted on the state's charter school website, including some from organizations that had applied during the last round but weren't approved.

The next deadline in the process will be July 15, when formal applications to open a charter school are due. After public forums, interviews and other evaluations, The Charter School Commission plans to vote in October on which schools will be given tentative approval to open.

Gov. Inslee joins Washtucna students to sign Palouse Falls bill

Gov. Inslee joins Washtucna students to sign Palouse Falls bill

An exciting day for the students of Washtucna School as Governor Jay Inslee joined them at the Palouse Falls to sign the bill the students penned making the landmark the official state waterfall.


The students started working on the bill as part of a class lesson on how government works in the fall. At the end of January, five of the students, in grades three through six, made their way to the state Capitol to make their case before the House Government Operations and Election Committee.

Students invited to Doodle for Google

Students invited to Doodle for Google

Google is calling all kids to enter the 2014 Doodle for Google competition. Students from kindergarten to 12th grade are invited to enter their doodles interpreting the theme “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…”

Voter's Pamphlet art contest open for Washington students

Voter's Pamphlet art contest open for Washington students

The Office of the Secretary of State is calling on Washington artists in the 4th & 5th grades to submit designs for the 2014 Voter’s Pamphlet. The winning design will be featured on more than 3.2 million copies of the pamphlet and will be sent to every house in the state during the General Election this fall.

Washtunca students pen bill for state waterfall

Washtunca students pen bill for state waterfall

At the Washtucna School, a civics lesson has taken on a life of its own and is inspiring the small school’s young students. The 30 students in grades 3 & 4 and 5 & 6 have introduced a bill in the legislature and are on a mission to have the Palouse Falls named the official water fall of Washington.


“We started thinking, how can we make this real for the kids,” said 5th & 6th grade teacher Janet Camp. “We started thinking, what do we have to offer?”

Threat closes Soap Lake Schools

Threat closes Soap Lake Schools

All schools in Soap Lake have been closed Tuesday due to threats.

The school board held an executive session Monday night to discuss building security and announced the one-day closure.

The Grant County town has about 500 students in four schools.

The website iFIBER One News reports Soap Lake school board President Jerry Bessett declined to elaborate on the threats. But, he says the district is shutting down due to safety concerns for students and staff.

Last week a 16-year-old Soap Lake High School student was arrested after he made threats to kill school staff and students.