Burning and learning: December Focus on energy and ethanol workshop

The power of corn was clearly demonstrated in Ohio Corn & Wheat-sponsored Feed the World’s recent workshop on energy and ethanol. 33 teachers from around the state attended this event at Global Impact STEM Academy in Springfield.

The teachers, representing a variety of subject areas including chemistry, physics, biology, and environmental science, worked through several hands-on energy and ethanol labs. Led by FTW educators Heather Bryan and Jane Hunt, with assistance from FTW alumni educators Rachel Sanders and Jennifer Foudray, these lessons covered:

Corn mash and distillation—How can we produce both a sustainable fuel and a quality feed product?

Nutrient testing—What are the nutrient values of corn before and after ethanol production?

Biomass to sugars lab—Which feedstock will produce the most sugar?

Corn fermentation in a bag—What is necessary for fermentation to take place? How can we determine the fastest rate of fermentation?

During lunch, Ohio Corn & Wheat Director of Communications Brad Reynolds presented information about the corn industry in the state of Ohio, helping the audience understand controversial issues in agriculture and the proven benefits of ethanol. OC&W Project Manager Ellen Gilliland was also on hand to talk with teachers.

Each attendee went home with several hundred dollars’ worth of supplies to implement the lessons in their own classroom, including a mini Stirling engine that runs on ethanol. POET Biorefining in Leipsic donated the corn flour used in the labs and supply kits.

Biotechnology instructor Erin Molden from Miami Valley Career Tech Center said she is trying hard to bring the agriculture side of biotechnology into her classes so students know about the job possibilities in this field. “I’m really excited to have some hands-on experience in these areas. Thank you, Ohio Corn & Wheat, for providing the educational opportunities we’ve had today!”

Watch ohiocorneducation.org and Feed the World’s monthly newsletter for information on a two-day summer workshop for teachers!