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Category: Bioenergy

Recap: High School Challenge 2015 Posters  April 20th, 2015

This past week the SMILE program was happy to host over 100 high school students from clubs across Oregon during the annual High School Challenge event. Students learned about bioenergy and used data to make decisions about what kind of bioenergy feedstock would be the right choice for their designated communities.  Students created posters which included infographics to defend their decisions.  Check out their work:


High School Challenge Surveys  February 18th, 2015

High School SMILE teachers, we need your help!  In preparation for the April High School Challenge event, we have a survey about bioenergy in your communities.  We would like this survey to be filled out by you and your students and returned before Spring Break.  The survey and additional documentation can be found below.  You can return surveys by emailing Renee O’Neill ( the data in the excel sheet, sending the hard copy originals via standard mail, or scanning in your surveys and emailing them as PDFs.  Whatever format you choose is fine, as long as we can see the data and are able interpret the results for the SMILE High School Challenge.  Please also send a copy of the complete survey your students use to help us interpret the data.

There is a section in the lesson plan on manipulating and interpreting data but please note that this is optional for you and your students to complete.  We will be compiling and interpreting data in preparation for the HSC event.
Thank you so much for your help and we look forward to seeing you all here in April!

Recap: 2015 Winter Teacher’s Workshop  February 6th, 2015

We enjoyed your company at the Winter Teacher’s Workshop! We hope everyone had a blast. If you are a middle school or high school SMILE teacher you should have received the following materials (pictured below): cornstarch, agar agar, gelatin powder, a bottle of glycerin, Styrofoam, cornstarch, and green biodegradable Styrofoam packing peanuts. With these materials we showcased several lesson plans including Fork it Over and Packing for the Future along with the bonus activity: Composting- Out of Sight Not Out of Mind. All of the lesson plans and presentations for these activities can be seen here.  We would love to see pictures of your SMILE students performing these activities. Always feel free to e-mail us at


2015 Winter Teacher’s Workshop Bioenergy Activities  January 28th, 2015

This Friday, January 30th we will be presenting bioenergy activities at our annual teacher’s workshop. This year we focused on biodegradation and are excited to share with you three different activities. First, in the Packing for the Future activity students will get to compare cornstarch and Styrofoam packing peanuts and decide which is more suitable for their shipping company. Next, in the activity Fork it Over (along with this worksheet), students will get to make their own biodegradable forks while still trying to maintain utensil strength. Last, in our bonus activity Composting–Out of Sight Out of Mind students will get to bury their newly made utensils and other utensils to compare the degradability of each product. If you are able to make it to the workshop you will see this awesome presentation from our bioenergy expert, Brian Hartman. We hope to see you Friday!


Update: Poplar Trees at Forest Grove High School  November 4th, 2014

We love seeing updates and pictures from the activities SMILE has created. Forest Grove High School was nice enough to share with us the progress of their poplar trees that they received during the 2014 Winter Teacher’s Workshop. Students in this club are taking measurements every week. See for yourself their growing trees:

photo[1] photo[4]-2



Recap: August Teacher’s Workshop  August 22nd, 2014

We had a great time hosting our teacher’s workshop where we got to showcase fun, new activities to use in the club or classroom setting. For the middle school and high school students we shifted our focus toward engineering by showing the teachers an algal lab where the students can design what they think is an optimal place for algae to grow.  For the elementary school students the focus was on ecology and geology, which lead to some awesome hands on activities. All of these activities and those showcased in the workshop can be found below.  Thanks again for joining us this year and please feel free to share your comments on the activities we provided.

Elementary School:

Middle School:

High School:

Riperian dan joseph shawnMS engineering jay

Saving White City’s Air  August 11th, 2014

Recently White City, Oregon has been experiencing a problem and we can help them.  They have a pile of wood chips that covers 6 acres to a height of 40 feet that has the tendency to spontaneously ignite during the hot summers – threatening nearby homes and blanketing the town in smoke for days.  This town is the environment in four additional activities for the teacher workshop.  The town creates a nice motivation for students to design bioenergy power plants.  If they can figure out a way to use the wood chips to generate power and use the energy stored in the wood chips everybody wins.

Saving White City I (Middle School)

Saving White City II (Middle School)

Saving White City III (High School)

Saving White City IV (High School)

white city

Algal Lab  August 8th, 2014

For all ages we created a lab activity to focus on a new type of biofuel grown from algae.  In this activity the class will make and grow their own algae as instructed in the video below.  This algae will then be extracted to show students how much oil can be produced from such a small sample. This will allow students to compare this biofuels to others they have seen in the past.