Indiana Soybean Alliance offers teachers soy biodiesel kit

By Indiana Soybean Alliance | December 14, 2012

Indiana high school students now have the opportunity to make soy biodiesel from the vegetable oil found on grocery store shelves right in their science classrooms, thanks to the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

The Soy Biodiesel Chemistry Kit was developed by Purdue University researchers and education professionals through funding from ISA, the Indiana soybean checkoff organization.

ISA has recently updated the kit, which was first released in 2005, with two new lessons along with the most current information about soy biodiesel and its benefits. Indiana science teachers can receive a free kit as part of ISA’s program to support educational activities around soy biodiesel.

“The kit is an engaging way for high school science classes to apply the basic skills and principles of chemistry,” said Don Wyss, chairman of ISA’s biofuels committee and a farmer from Ossian, Ind. “It is also a great way to introduce soy biodiesel—and renewable fuels in general—to students through hands-on experiments that take complex scientific processes and break them down into easy-to-understand lessons.”

Soy biodiesel is a clean-burning, alternative fuel choice for a wide range of diesel users, like schools, public transportation fleets and semi-trucks. Many consumers have switched to soy biodiesel because of its safety and environmental friendliness compared to petroleum diesel—and it’s also grown and manufactured in the United States.

The kit includes six lesson plans and hands-on experiments along with the necessary equipment for 10 groups of two students to perform each of the kit’s hands-on exercises and experiments. Lesson topics include the diesel engine and the development of biodiesel, the physical and chemical properties of soybean oil and esters, thin-layer chromatography, determining biodiesel concentrations in diesel, and more.

“The lessons offered in the kit are aligned with the National Science Education Standards, and we think that is an important component to encourage teachers to incorporate these lessons into their classrooms,” said Wyss.

The kit also includes extensive background information for the teacher and students, as well as lab sheets and discussion questions. The kit helps illustrate real-world chemistry applications to students as well as the growing importance of the alternative fuel industry, which is primarily derived from renewable resources like soybean oil.

Indiana teachers can receive their free kit (one per teacher) by completing the online order form at or by e-mailing [email protected]. For out-of-state teachers, the kit can be purchased for $225 at the website.

The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds and the development of sound policies that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. The ISA is working to build new markets for soybeans through the promotion of biodiesel, livestock, grain marketing, aquaculture, new soybean uses, and research. ISA is led by an elected farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 28,000 Indiana soybean farmers and promotes policies on behalf of the ISA’s 800 dues-paying members.

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