On Friday October 21st, as many students slept in because it was an in-service day, Manitoba teachers made their way to specialized area group (SAG) conferences. For educators in our province, SAG is the biggest Professional Development day all year.
The MCGA was invited to present at the Science Teacher’s Association of Manitoba (STAM), and we invited Rex Newkirk, a Director of Research and Development with the Canadian International Grains Institute, to present to science teachers on “How to make your own biodiesel.”
The day started off with Rex setting up six biodiesel making stations in a classroom science lab. Along with each lab, we included used cooking oil, which we would be using to convert to biodiesel.
We had about 25 teachers join us as Rex took us through the process of making biodiesel using a highly interactive approach. Science teachers are the perfect subject for this activity, not one teacher walked out of there without taking away something new to pass onto their students.
Rex’s presentation focused on showcasing acid-based reactions and litations, how catalyst systems work and connecting it all to how it impacts our environment and food, and therefore our consumer choices.
After the excitement of comparing biodiesel produced form each station and seeing how they all varied, the day ended with Rex taking everyone on a tour of the biodiesel trailer. The trailer not only runs on biodiesel, but is also a portable plant that is fully functional in producing biodiesel. It includes a unit that extracts the oil directly from canola seeds, reactor vessels, catalyst system, ion wash system for dry washing biodiesel, and a Biodiesel-powered generator.
It was a great day and highly interactive and educational. Furthermore, it was extremely valuable for the teachers, most of them who were excited to take this newly found knowledge and pursue doing the activity in their own science labs.
Each teacher had their own ideas about what other lessons to tie to this activity, including making wise consumer choices that are good for your health.