School Visit: How should we use our resources?
On 9 June 2016, CBMNet member Dr Alan Goddard and CBMNet manager Dr Jen Vanderhoven, along with two University of Lincoln Student helpers, visited two schools in Lincoln.
The hour long sessions focused around providing information to Year 10 science students about the processes and products of bioenergy and biomolecule production, followed by a debate. In particular, we focused on the production of biofuels such as ethanol and n-butanol which often use feed stocks which can have alternative applications in the human and animal food chains. The aim was to generate debate about the pros and cons of these processes and look at both the positive and negative environmental and social impacts of Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy. A key aim of CBMNet is to generate such debate and to inform the public about the activities involved in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.
Dr Alan Goddard explains: “Industrial biotechnology and especially bioenergy often rely on organic matter e.g. plant material for the formation of the product. A classic example of this would be the fermentation of alcohol using yeast. In recent years, this has been expanded to include a whole variety of molecules including important biofuels such as n-butanol. However, there is an inherent conflict between the use of some raw materials for bioenergy that could otherwise be used to feed people or animals. Whilst this can be an issue in some processes, there is a large amount of work underway to use alternative resources such as waste and by products from other industrial processes.”
Some of the disadvantages of producing biofuels from students at The Priory City of Lincoln Academy:
Should we produce biofuels in the UK:
“I had a great time at the Bio-fuels talk. I thought that the information was presented in a way that was easy for us to understand and talk about. The discussions we had were particularly interesting. The things that we spoke about have benefited me considerably in my usual science lessons and I am now able to contribute more in class discussions by sharing the information I have learnt with my peers. I would like to take part in more events like this to learn more about topics that I would never usually take much notice of.”
Molly Butcher, Class 10.5, The Priory City of Lincoln Academy
“Thanks for the session on Thursday. I was able to see the group today and all the students who attended were grateful for the experience. The afternoon provided a real life link to Science in addition to its relevance with the current Science curriculum. It was an excellent opportunity for our students to talk to scientists who are able to make the academic content accessible. The experience enabled the students to become conversant about issues that will affect their lives in addition to underpinning some of the concepts they have learned during this academic year. I think the relevance of the topic made it more engaging to the girls in the group in addition to the fact that there were three female scientists in the room which helps crush any gender stereotypes!”