Middle school students make special discovery in the science lab

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Bacteria…that glows in the dark?? Eighth grade students at C. M. Eppes Middle School made the shocking discovery during a recent science experiment.

Jennifer Stalls, the science teacher heading up the experiment, explains:

“We had no idea that these plates would actually grow this glow in the dark species of bacteria, Pseudomonas fluorescens. But they did, and I think that was kind of an exciting finding for them.”

The discovery is part of a real-life science experiment with the Kenan Fellows Program and Dr. Juila Stevens at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Students collected soil and root samples from various plants right in the school’s backyard. The idea is to find weeds that attract bacteria and fungi that replenish nitrogen in the soil, similar to legumes like peanuts and soybeans. This would be a cheaper and more eco-friendly way for farmers to rotate crops.

“We know that dandelions act as legumes,” says Stalls. “There could be other weeds as well. So these kids could have discovered something this week that could revolutionize crop rotation in North Carolina.”

The discovery has students in Stalls’ class excited about science.

“It’s hands on so we could do something with the class instead of sitting in a classroom taking notes down,” says James Simpson, an 8th grade student in Stalls’ science class.

“I never knew that we could actually do this in 8th grade,” says Jylexius Pettiford, another student in the class.

With a scientific discovery already under their belt, these students will be ahead of the curve if they pursue STEM careers.

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