Kelsey Killoran

Systems analyses of bioenergy production in the United States: Classroom resources for high school teachers and students

Optimizing sustainable production of large-scale bioenergy and bioproducts from plant biomass is an important step toward reducing petroleum imports, usage, and harmful greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. A scientifically literate public and technically trained workforce is required to advance a bio-based, eco-industrial economy.  Because science literacy is correlated with pre-collegiate science education, this project aims to develop high school student and teacher awareness of the complex links between plant research, agriculture, economics, and the environment.  Thirty science teachers and thirty-five youth and adults were trained on these topics; in addition, a series of educational materials were developed, including a Biofuel Poster and a Sustainable Biofuel Systems lesson plan directed at high school science classrooms. Students will use web-based resources, quantitative reasoning, and systems thinking to better understand the role of science in shaping the economy and the lives of individuals (and vice versa.) Curricula will be piloted and evaluated in classrooms across the northeast in 2013.