The objective of the Education team is to increase bioenergy literacy for students at all levels and build their capacity to engage in regional energy/climate/economic debate as scientifically informed and knowledgeable citizens. Our education activities include the development of middle and high school science units on bioenergy-related topics; professional development for K-12 teachers on the use of the units; research experiences for K-12 teachers and undergraduates; and regular instruction and on-line coursework and internships for undergraduates, graduate students, and K-12 teachers.
All elements of the education program will undergo formal evaluation by an external evaluator (Dr. Rose Shaw, Metrica, Inc.). Assessment instruments will include pre-post tests of workshop activities, observations of activities, interviews, and surveys. Results of assessments will be reported quarterly to the program leadership.
Middle and high school education
K-12 teachers, graduate students, scientists and science educators will collaborate to develop one middle school and one high school science unit that can be integrated into existing courses and are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The units will draw materials from existing courses at CSU on bioenergy (below). The units will build students’ capacity to engage in regional energy/climate/economic debates as scientifically informed and knowledgeable citizens.
Teacher professional development training
Up to 10 middle and 10 high school teachers will be trained at each site (Colorado State University, University of Wyoming, University of Montana, Montana State University, and University of Idaho), in the effective use of the science units. Professional development workshops will support teachers in developing relevant scientific and pedagogical understandings and practices. Project personnel will also visit teachers’ classrooms to provide additional support for initial classroom unit implementation.
Research experiences for teachers (RET) and undergraduates (REU)
Providing research experiences to K-12 teachers and undergraduates is important to their professional development and to the development of a strong graduate student pool, and also provides mentoring opportunities (professional development) for current graduate students. The NSF-funded REU program of the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels can be used to fund undergraduates to work at CSU, and NSF-funded supplements (REU and RET) to standard research awards can be used to fund undergraduates and teachers across the partnership. Additional funding from USDA could be used to develop a parallel program that could leverage many of the same program features, including seminars and the final poster presentation.
Multidisciplinary Bioenergy Graduate Education Programs - CSU has created a multidisciplinary bioenergy PhD program and is developing a Professional Science Masters with a similar focus. We will expand these programs for students participating in the BANR program in the following ways: Coursework - We will augment two courses on bioenergy (one on technology and one on policy, economics, and environmental assessment) with content related to woody biomass and biochar. Research rotations - Students will be given the opportunity to spend 1-2 months in research groups from this project other than their own. Internships - Students spend 8-10 weeks at another institution (e.g., company, national laboratory, or federal agency) on a bioenergy project. Washington policy week - Students spend 4 days in DC meeting with people with different roles in shaping US energy policy, including Congressional offices, federal agencies (USDA, DOE, EPA), nonprofits, and lobbyists.
On-line Bioenergy Courses and Science Units - Conversion of the two bioenergy courses mentioned above to an on-line format will allow us to reach K-12 teachers and graduate students at our partner institutions and also to involve faculty there as instructors. The proposed science units for middle school and high school instruction will be developed using materials from the bio-energy courses.
Energy and Policy - We will develop a 1-credit course for K-12 teachers and graduate students that focuses on the roles of different people and agencies in shaping US energy policy. The course will be based on the Washington policy week experience discussed above. The course would include a pre-trip segment to prepare participants for the policy meetings, a trip to Washington, DC to meeting with individuals from Congressional offices, federal agencies (USDA, DOE, EPA), nonprofits, and lobbyists, and a post-trip discussion and reporting segment.