Outcomes of Chemistry and Biology in Bioenergy Interdisciplinary Workshop
(Southeast Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems) The Chemistry and Biology in Bioenergy Interdisciplinary Workshop for High School Teachers sponsored by IBSS recently took place at the University of Tennessee (July 13-17). The workshop was designed to assist teachers with their standards-based classroom curricula by incorporating bioenergy-related concepts into their classroom topics.
Teachers received hands-on training with classroom modules designed by IBSS team researchers. These modules were aimed at reinforcing core science concepts such as stoichiometry, the ideal gas law, biodiversity, and genetics, among others. The interdisciplinary research focus of IBSS team members created an ideal environment to engage teachers in a multi-faceted way. “I enjoyed how all aspects of the week reinforced each other. The focus was clear and very informative,” wrote a workshop participant.
In addition, the workshop exposed teachers to career opportunities in biomass- and bioenergy-related industries. Peter Muller, Global Account Executive at PerkinElmer, gave a presentation entitled “Fostering Science Career Awareness” to the workshop participants. In it, he highlighted the various career opportunities and the education levels required for students wishing to pursue such careers. This was an invaluable opportunity for teachers to connect STEM career opportunities to concrete objectives and outcomes for their students.
Workshop participants also took part in a field trip to the Biomass Innovation Park in Vonore, TN, where they saw how bioenergy crops are transformed into an industrially-relevant biomass feedstock and supplied to industrial partners. They also had the opportunity to visit DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol, where they saw how biomass is biochemically converted into ethanol for use as a renewable fuel. “I most enjoyed the field trips to Vonore. They tied in the labs with actually growing different plants and the production of ethanol,” said one teacher.
Finally, the teachers participated in a two-day integrated experiment related to biomass pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification. In this experiment, the teachers received hands-on experience using research-laboratory-grade analytical equipment to characterize the chemical composition of switchgrass. Then, they used industrially-relevant techniques to pretreat and convert the switchgrass into mono-sugars for fermentation into ethanol.
If you were unable to attend the 2015 workshop, you can visit the IBSS website to download bioenergy-related activities to incorporate in your classroom. There, you can also find additional outreach resources and information about the 2016 workshop. READ MORE