Last week a second academy was hosted by Ranken’s STEM Coordinator for local educators. The three day event was designed to give teachers the tools and information they need to inspire their students to explore the world of math and science and was taught by Darrin Peters, a chemistry teacher at Rockwood Summit High School.
With the price of oil constantly fluctuating and concerns over emissions, Americans have begun to seek alternatives to petroleum. This STEM academy focused on renewable fuels, more specifically biodiesel. Biodiesel is a domestic ,carbon neutral, renewable fuel produced from a variety of biological feed stocks. Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine with little or no modifications and easily blends with petroleum diesel. This past year, more biodiesel has been produced in the U.S. than ever before.
Over the three days, attendees learned safety procedures for handling methanol, KOH and biodiesel, discussed the benefits of alternative fuels and participated in various lab activities in which they produced biodiesel from waste vegetable oil collected from a local restaurant. On the final day they tested, analyzed and critiqued their samples. Each attendee took away various educational materials and lab techniques that could be used to create lesson plans to be integrated into their existing curriculum at their home school. One hour of graduate college credit in Advanced Technologies or 2.0 Continuing Education Credits were available options for attendees through the University of Missouri - St. Louis and each attendee was awarded a stipend for attending all three sessions.