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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.

Spokane schools preparing elementary students for longer days

Spokane schools preparing elementary students for longer days

Elementary school students in the Spokane school district will soon have longer school days as school officials are adding 30 minutes to each day.

School officials say a longer school day has a significant impact on students as long its filled with meaningful instruction.

This change will give students more time in the classroom and put the Spokane school district in line with the rest of the country.

The district says there are other reasons this is such a good time to make the change. The new schedule gives teachers time to work on common core. Administration at each individual school site will be able to determine how the time will be used.

"It may be an additional math course, additional language arts time, whatever the school principal sees as the most effective use of the time," Kevin Morrison, director of communications with Spokane Public Schools, said.

Students will begin having longer school days in September 2015.

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.

Schools, first responders preparing for worst case scenarios

Schools, first responders preparing for worst case scenarios

The deadly school shooting in Oregon Tuesday served to reemphasize to local first responders the importance of preparing for active shooter and mass casualty scenarios in our community.

It's not something you want to think about -- a deadly shooting at a school -- but since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook December 2012 there have been 74 school shootings around the country.

It can happen anywhere and at any time and that's why the Spokane Public Schools want to be prepared.

"The reality is it's not a matter of if it comes it's a matter of when it comes," Spokane Police Officer Jay Kernkamp said.

Kernkamp said the police department is preparing for worst case scenarios and to that end this last February they partnered with the fire department to practice how they would respond to a hypothetical active shooter scenario at a school.

"Those types of trainings are unfortunately becoming more and more common so that we can be prepared," he said.

The entire department trains quarterly with specialty teams prepping each week. One of the few things police departments have changed is their response to an incident.

Class of 2014 looks ahead to bright future

 Class of 2014 looks ahead to bright future

Proud friends and family looked on as their Shadle Park graduates received their high school diploma Saturday morning.

Four years of countless tests, Friday night football games and school dances. All now closed chapters in their own history books.

"We thought it was going to do slow like when you come in as a freshman you're like oh my gosh I'm going to be in this high school forever, but it goes so quick," said Olivia Meyers, Shadle Park graduate.

Most of these graduates started kindergarten in 2001. The year when ENRON crashed, Friends was the most watched television show, the Arizona Diamondbacks were World Series Champions, and of course the unforgettable tragedies of 9/11.

The class of 2014 has grown up through some of the worst times the world has seen, but also some of the best.

It's almost parallel to these young adults lives, showing what they are capable of. Their future is in their hands .

For many of these students that future is college.

"I hope it's just as much fun as high school if not way more, and really just get a whole new experience," said Brittany Gately, Shadle Park graduate.

Second Harvest hand out food at elementary schools to help replace school lunch

Second Harvest hand out food at elementary schools to help replace school lunch

Second Harvest is teaming up with Spokane elementary schools to make sure no student goes hungry this summer.

The program focuses on schools where the majority of students are on the free or reduced lunch program.

The concern is that many families who rely on school lunch may not be able to provide that extra meal during the summer months.

"Everyone's budgets are stretched a little thin, especially as summer is approaching with all of the end of school activities and stuff," said volunteer Rhonda Hause. "All the extras really help the families leave happy."

If you would like to donate, the Spokane Food Bank is accepting donations.

Shenanigans! Seniors take over Ferris staff parking lot

Shenanigans! Seniors take over Ferris staff parking lot

For most area high school seniors, graduation is next week, and that means senior prank time is this week.

Thursday morning's shenanigans were are Ferris High School. The campus was recently renovated and parking has been a bit difficult for students. They made light of that Wednesday night by camping out in the faculty parking lot overnight and taking up all the spaces Thursday morning.

"Parking has been an issue so we decided to make it worse, yeah we have barbecues, we have grills, it's been a great time," Tanner, a Ferris senior, said.

School administrators eventually kicked the seniors out of the parking lot but the kids moved the party to Ben Burr Park.

As far as KXLY knows no students received any disciplinary action for their senior shenanigans.