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Recap: Middle School and Elementary School Challenge 2015 at OSU Cascades  May 7th, 2015

We had a great time at all three Middle School and Elementary School Challenges this year. We ended the Challenge at Oregon State University’s Cascade Campus where elementary students learned about predator and prey relationships. AmeriCorps volunteers helped the students create habitats to help demonstrate these relationships. Check out their work below and on our Facebook page. Students also had a great time touring Central Oregon Community College and continued to make awesome solar ovens. We hope to see you next year!

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Recap: Middle School and Elementary School Challenge 2015 at Portland Community College  April 27th, 2015

This year’s challenge was focused around solar energy.  Middle school students made solar ovens and we were impressed with their results. While at Portland Community College, the elementary school students were introduced to exciting areas of study like physics, chemistry, biology for management of zoo animals, chemistry, and veteranary technician.  It looks like a fun time was had by all. Be sure to check out more pictures on our Facebook page.


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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!

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)

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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.

Film Canister Rockets  August 8th, 2014

Here’s another awesome activity that we’ll be presenting at our Teachers’ Workshop next week! This is a really fun activity in which students use film canisters to create rockets. Click here to access the lesson plan.

On Ellen’s talkshow, she set off 3,000 film canisters rockets at once! Check it out here:

Fueling Our Future Activity  August 4th, 2014

Last teacher workshop we previewed awesome middle school and high school bioenergy textbooks from Facing the Future.  These books are filled with activities including Sustainable Flight in the Pacific Northwest, which is a great real life example.  In this activity students will research different biofuels and decide which one is best suited to be mixed with jet fuel. They will then trace the production process and explore stakeholder’s positions with their classmates. Collectively classmates must come up with a new jet fuel policy that satisfies all of their stakeholders. This activity encourages healthy debate and will allow students to act as policy makers. We will be handing out the Facing the Future textbooks during the teacher workshop and we encourage you to check out their other amazing activities.