If you are looking for inquiry-based activities that focus on bioenergy and biofuels, you should take a look at the classroom materials that are available on the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center for Education & Outreach website. The mission of GLBRC Education & Outreach is to inform a variety of audiences about bioenergy research, energy concerns, and sustainability issues affecting the planet. Their goal is to broaden the understanding of current issues in bioenergy for the general public, students, and educators. The classroom materials on the website include a set of laboratory activities that can be used with Vernier probes to measure and analyze biofuels. Each activity also includes student handouts, teacher notes, and sample data.

Enzymatic degradation of cardboard results in increased ethanol production during fermentation

For example, “The CB2E: Converting Cellulosic Biomass to Ethanol” exercise is an excellent investigation on how different processes are used to turn cardboard or other forms of biomass into ethanol. An Ethanol Sensor is used to measure the amount of ethanol produced after biomass samples are subjected to different types of treatment. You can see from the data above that enzymatic digestion of cardboard is required to produce significant amounts of ethanol. This activity is featured in the September issue of the Science Teacher. An excellent video that describes this activity can be seen below.

CB2E Lab Overview

To learn more about this and other free activities, visit www.glbrc.org/education