Teen Battles Kudzu With Helium

For his sixth grade science project, Jacob Schindler wanted to find a way to prove that kudzu could live on Mars. He is now 17, and his plans have shifted. He’s not experimenting with a unique reaction he experienced when dosing kudzu with helium. Now he is hoping to eliminate unwanted kudzu in an environment-friendly way.

He came up with a modified drill shaft that hooks up to a helium tank.

“I drill the actual device into the ground which allows me to have something underground to disperse the helium with,” he explained.

His mom, Julie has helped him apply for a patent on the device and his methodology.

Stephen Enloe, assistant professor of agronomy at Auburn University agrees that Jacob’s approach is truly a novel one. He has been working with Schindler junior on a research grant sponsored by the Weed Science Society of America.

“When I first heard about Jacob’s ideas, I was a little skeptical. But the more I thought about it, I realized it could have some merit. Kudzu has large tubers and if the helium is choking out the oxygen, it could be suffocating them,” Enloe said.

He and Schindler have been recreating the initial kudzu experiments in a laboratory.

Photo by Jenny Pansing

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