COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The potential of tomorrow's bioenergy and bioproducts rests in today's classrooms. And Ohio State University is taking part in a multi-state project offering teachers with training and toolkits to prepare students for careers in this growing field.
"The idea is to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, and to give teachers the resources they need to show students how STEM principles apply in the fields of biofuels and bioproducts," said Denny Hall, co-program manager for the Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center (OBIC) in Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Hall is Ohio's representative on the five-year project, which is based at Cornell University and is funded by a $5 million grant from the Agriculture and Food Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
"We're hoping to inspire today's students to pursue careers in these fields much the same way as students were inspired by the space program in the 1960s," said Corinne Rutzke, project director at Cornell. "A lot of young people today are tuned into the environment and sustainability, but many don't realize how much they need a scientific, math or engineering background to bring us into the bioeconomy."
The deadline to apply for the program is March 31. Additional information on the program and eligibility is available at https://www.regonline.com/BioenergyTeachers2011. There is a $10 application fee.
Three opportunities are available:
- A 12-week internship this summer with OBIC, based on Ohio State's Columbus campus. The intern will receive a $6,000 stipend and will work with experts in food processing, agricultural engineering, economics and related areas and help develop lesson plans relating to bioenergy and bioproducts, as well as professional development programs for teachers.
- A six-week Train-the-Trainer program in which two applicants will be selected to attend a workshop at Cornell to be trained on a suite of laboratory kits and workbooks and certification in Smart Board technology. These participants will then work with OBIC for an additional three weeks. The project will pay for the costs of attending the Cornell program, as well as offer a $3,000 stipend. These participants will become Master Teacher Trainers and will offer training to other teachers during a one-week workshop in August.
- A one-week Master Teacher workshop for 10 participants at the Ohio State Fair Aug. 1-5. These teachers will learn how to teach basic bioenergy and bioproducts concepts to other teachers using prepared lab kits and interactive white board activities, which will be provided by the project. The teachers will receive full scholarships for the program, as well as a $500 stipend after the workshop's completion to help defray costs of participating.
Other states participating in the project are New York, Maryland and Delaware. Any educator may apply to be a part of the program at any site.
Applicants who are not selected for participation in 2011 are eligible to be put on a waiting list for future years.
"We're looking for people who are really enthusiastic about the possibilities of biofuels and bioproducts," Hall said. "Ultimately, the goal is to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and instead draw upon the rapidly renewable resources available in biomass."