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From snack to science: Innovative grant brings popcorn into the classroom

Tony Studer with cobs of orange and blue popcorn.

URBANA, Ill. — In a few years, popcorn could become a standard element in science classrooms across Illinois and the nation. With funding from a new USDA grant, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign crop scientist and collaborating educators are developing a popcorn-based curriculum to reinforce concepts around agricultural science, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, computer science, genomics, research methods, and more for 4-H and high school students. 

The funding may be new, but Tony Studer has proselytized the power of popcorn to engage the younger generation for nearly a decade.

“Everybody knows popcorn, but students don’t typically think about where it comes from or how science is used to improve the food we eat,” said Studer, associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences, part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at U. of I. “Using popcorn to scaffold more complex science concepts keeps students more engaged because it’s already something they’re familiar with.” 

Read the full release from the College of ACES. 

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