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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.

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.

Spokane schools encouraging healthy lifestyles with students and their families

Spokane schools encouraging healthy lifestyles with students and their families

Spokane Public Schools will be adopting a new marketing campaign in the fall called Power Up that is designed to encourage not just students, but the whole family to live a healthy lifestyle.

Doug Wordell is the Director of Nutrition Services at Spokane Public Schools, he said they were working on a phrase that would get kids and their families excited, and Power Up seemed perfect.

With months of work put into advancing their healthy eating mission, the nutrition department will roll out a marketing program this fall.

"It's a nutrition education awareness for great foods, fresh foods, and kids making great selections in schools," said Wordell.

He said they reached out to families to determine what their concerns were.

"We did focus groups with students. and we did parent surveys to talk about, what are their needs," said Wordell.

They are encouraging the whole family to get involved, because it's not enough to just educate the kids.

Adjunct profs hope to form union

Adjunct instructors at Spokane's Gonzaga University are trying to form the college's first faculty union.

Such instructors work on temporary contracts and earn much less than tenured professors.

The Spokesman-Review reported Thursday that the Gonzaga adjuncts have no job security, no health benefits and little voice regarding the direction of their workplace. Adjunct and other temporary faculty make up 57 percent of Gonzaga's teaching staff.

Signatures are currently being gathered to form a union.

Gonzaga administrators have been meeting with union organizers, but the university has not taken an official stance on the effort.

Spokane Arena fills with music at the annual Band and Strings Spectacular

Spokane Arena fills with music at the annual Band and Strings Spectacular

The annual Band and Strings Spectacular was Tuesday night at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. More than 2,600 students played their instruments in front of thousands of proud parents.

Most teachers and parents would agree just getting to this point was nothing short of a miracle.

"It's a lot of work getting it all put together and there are so many people that work together and pull it off," said band teacher Karen Budge.

The musicians were made up of 5th and 6th graders from Spokane Schools. For many of them the concert was an hour to prove to themselves what they're capable of, and to make their parents proud.

"It's fun because you get to do all these songs and it's really pretty amazing," said Chloe from Brown Elementary.

"Her playing tonight is a fantastic opportunity for her to grow as a person and grow as a musician," said Chloe's mom Tammi.

KXLY'S Kris Crocker emceed of the event.