Soybeans: What can youth learn from them?

Soybean fields can be seen everywhere in Michigan right now. Keeping plant science in mind, what can youth learn from them?

Youth can learn a lot about plant science and more from soybeans.
Youth can learn a lot about plant science and more from soybeans.

Soybean fields are everywhere in Michigan, and so many scientific questions can be asked by youth in experiential learning, such as how do they grow? Why do farmers rotate their fields? Can I eat them and are they good for me? Are soybeans a grain or a vegetable? What other use do soybeans provide? How do they make tofu from soybeans? These questions can be answered by researching on the Internet, contacting a Michigan State University Extension field crop educator, contacting a local farmer or locating a soybean expert.

Michigan 4-H Plant Science is one of the many science areas youth can explore. Soybeans can spark a youth’s interest as a future career in farming, entrepreneurship possibilities like soybean candles or soybean snacks, community garden project and more! Individuals can check out the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, a group that even has teaching nutrition of soybeans through theatre as a way to educate young kids about healthy eating and how agriculture plays an important role.

Did you know that tofu is made from soybeans? Individuals can research how to make tofu and enjoy the learning process together with a few supplies needed in creating good tasting results, which will include having soymilk being made in the process. Some of the supplies needed would include dry organic soybeans, water, salt, a blender or food processor, cotton flour bags, cheesecloth, pans for cooking and some patience.

Kids can also have fun with “COOLBEAN the Soybean” and find out how the soybean became so special with the help of scientists. Be creative in your discovery of what can be learned from soybeans.

For more information about Michigan soybeans, contact MSU Extension senior soybean educator Mike Staton at For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your county MSU Extension office or visit the Michigan 4-H website.

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