Biodiesel Education Program develops 4-H, elementary curriculum

By Erin Voegele | February 22, 2012

The University of Idaho’s Biodiesel Education Program has released curriculum designed to help students between the ages of eight and 12 understand the concepts of energy and renewable energy. While the free seven-lesson program was written for 4-H clubs, the Biodiesel Education Program stresses it is also appropriate for use by elementary school teachers.

The curriculum features several hand-on activities, including a matching game, a fossil fuels timeline and a renewable energy model. Other components of the program include an energy tour and viscosity wands.

The program includes two parts, a student workbook and an instructor’s manual. The student workbook contains lessons titled “What is Energy,” “Liquid Fuels as Energy Sources,” “Fossil Fuels,” “Renewable Energy,” “Vegetable Oil and Animal Fat as Sources of Energy,” “How is Biodiesel Made and Used,” and “Scientists and Engineers.”

In the chapter focused on renewable energy, students learn about the cultivation of biodiesel feedstocks, and the timeline for the growth cycle and use of those feedstocks. The chapter on vegetable oil and animal fats also deals with feedstocks, including learning about the energy content of sugars and fats. The lesson on biodiesel production and use includes a demonstration in which the group leader or teacher makes a small batch of biodiesel. Students also learn about chemical reactions, the differences between gas and diesel engines, as well as a lesson on viscosity.

The instructor’s manual contains detailed lesson plans as well as step-by-step instructions for demonstration activities and additional materials for hands-on activities. The instructor materials also feature additional activity suggestions for some lessons. Some examples include involving guest speakers or arranging for farm tours.

The complete instructor manual and student workbook can be downloaded free of charge on the Biodiesel Education Program website. The program also encourages instructors to contact them with any questions or suggestions, and provides contact information for doing so online. 


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