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GLBRC Education & Outreach NewsletterMay 2014
Happy Spring!

Read below for news and updates related to our education and outreach activities over the last few months, including new education resources, summer workshops and research highlights.
Exploring Energy Transformations in Plants  
Check out a new activity developed in collaboration with the Wisconsin Fast Plants® Program. The ability to explain the processes by which plants capture, store and use energy for growth and development is fundamental to understanding bioenergy.
Students model how plants grown in light vs. dark use energy.
In this series of lessons, students investigate how plants harness and use different sources of energy during germination and growth. Students ask questions and make predictions about the sources of energy that plants use. They then plan and carry out investigations using Wisconsin Fast Plants® to collect evidence to test predictions and construct scientific arguments. The lessons include alignment with NGSS performance expectations for middle and high school life sciences.
"Today's students face a future in which they will be required to create or evaluate solutions for reducing human impact on the environment," says Charles Anderson, GLBRC researcher and professor of teacher education at Michigan State University. "What we want to know is how prepared are they for the task and what can we do to prepare them."  Read more »
Mini Fermenter Design Update 

We've updated our mini-fermenter design to include less expensive materials and simpler design. These improvements were based upon the modified design developed by teacher Craig Kohn in the Agriscience Department at Waterford Union H.S., WI. 

The classroom mini fermenter (left) is based on the design of the mini fermenters used by GLBRC scientists (right).

This mini fermenter can be used to conduct small-scale fermentation investigations or demonstrations similar to research done by GLBRC scientists. The design allows for students to use simple techniques and classroom-grade probes to collect data during fermentation on a range of variables, such as ethanol concentration, CO2 production, temperature and pH. See the online instructions for more details.

Meet the Scientist: Natalia de Leon
Meet the Scientist - Natalia de Leon
Natalia de Leon, GLBRC scientist, describes her research breeding corn for better biofuel production and explains how information learned from corn breeding can be applied to improve other bioenergy crops, such as switchgrass. Natalia also shares how she entered the field of crop breeding and why this area of research is both important and exciting.
Upcoming Events & Professional Development Opportunities

For details on the events below and recaps of previous events, please visit our event blog.    

June 16-21
Bioenergy Institute for Educators,
Madison, MI 

June 16 - Aug. 1
RET Program, Madison, WI

June 18
WAAE Conference,
Middleton, WI

Aug. 4-6 
Energy Institute for Educators,
Madison, WI

Aug. 14
WAEE Conference,
Stevens Point, WI

GLBRC Research Highlights


Poplars "Designed for Deconstruction" a Major Boon to Biofuels 


What began twenty years ago as an innovation to improve paper industry processes and dairy forage digestibility may now open the door to a much more energy- and cost-efficient way to convert biomass into fuel. Read more » 


Productivity and Nitrogen Retention Tradeoffs in Bioenergy Grasslands 


Most biofuel in the United States is produced from corn grain; however, corn typically requires high levels of nitrogen fertilizer. Also, corn grain biofuels compete with other important uses for corn, such as human food and animal feed. Perennial grassland cropping systems may someday be managed as an alternative source of biofuel that requires fewer fertilizer inputs. Read more »


Passion for Renewable Fuels: Researcher Bruce Dale 


You have to go back a long way to trace the origins of GLBRC researcher Bruce Dale's passion for biofuels and renewable energy. The son of a mining engineer, Dale came face to face with the finite nature of non-renewable resources at the age of twelve, an early encounter that put him in dogged pursuit of the biofuels research now bringing him both national and international recognition. Read more » 


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We encourage you to visit our website at least once a month to look for new materials we have posted. http://www.glbrc.org/education 

Contact Information

Feel free to contact us with questions or feedback at education@glbrc.wisc.edu or 608-890-2828. If you know others who would like to be added to this list, please sign-up online.



GLBRC is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy