From Wood to Wing to Classroom
Using a real-world biofuels project as a K-12 teaching moment
Educators know the power of an authentic performance task, a task where students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, and proficiency in a relevant, genuine context.
For example, the culminating activity in Facing the Future’s middle and high school energy curricula, Fueling Our Future, is a stakeholder meeting. In this performance task, students are asked to use what they have learned about biofuels, sustainability, and communication to negotiate and to create a policy recommendation for a sustainable biofuel mix in the Pacific Northwest. In the coming months, the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) will be participating in a performance task of their own– the production of 1,000 gallons of bio-jet fuel made from wood and a demonstration flight with Alaska Airlines!
In 2011, NARA was awarded a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to research and develop a sustainable supply chain for aviation biofuel in the Pacific Northwest (USA). Since then, this alliance of universities, government labs, and private industry has been evaluating the feasibility and sustainability of using forest residuals, or slash from logging operations, as feedstock for bio-jet fuel and co-products. Not only will this 1,000 gallons of biofuel demonstrate 5 years of learning and research, it could also provide evidence for stakeholders around the world that the science and markets are ready with viable and regional alternatives to petroleum-based fuels.
To help prepare students and teachers around the PNW for this emerging field of bioenergy, the NARA education team has been working to promote (bio)energy literacy through the development of educational resources and programs.
Read the full story on our Facing the Future blog.