Rachael is measuring the ethanol in a fermentation sample of corn stover
brainstorming session on bioenergy
Today was the first day of the GLBRC Institute for Educators for Matt and I. The day started off with introductions. There are 24 of us in attendance, all with different experiences and ideas to bring to the table. The occupations in attendance ranged from teachers to software developers. 

In the morning, we mostly discussed the basics of bioenergy (what it is, how it's made, how it's connected to other concepts in science and society) and how students view things like photosynthesis. We learned about Learning Progression (successive levels of learning that increase in sophistication) and how students see things different at different levels. 

In the afternoon, we took part in a hands-on activity that we can use in our curricula in the fall if we choose. We compared the fermentation of different plant materials by yeast in small plastic bags (Activity called "fermentation in a bag"). We then measured the ethanol content with ethanol probes. We discovered that sugar produced more ethanol than cornstarch or corn stover. In places with more tropical climates, sugarcane can be used as this source of ethanol, but in the US, we need more temperate crops such as corn as our primary source of ethanol. 

Also during the afternoon, we heard from Travis Tanger, a former science teacher, who shared with us a lab activity he developed for his former students. It was a 6 day to 3 week lab where students tested the efficiency in fermenting various biomasses. We will be doing this lab throughout the week...Matt's group is testing corn stover and my group will be testing switchgrass.


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