Ag & Energy - Lesson 9 - Ag & the Biofuels Industry

Ag & Energy - Lesson 9 - Ag & the Biofuels Industry

Target Grade Level / Age Range:

High School: 9-12

Time:

50 Minutes

Purpose:

As a result of this lesson, the student will …

  1. Identify the impact ethanol has on agricultural commodities.
  2. Identify the impact ethanol has on agricultural communities.
  3. Identify the impact ethanol has on the U.S. and world agricultural industry.

Materials:

  • Writing surface
  • Transparencies and projector
  • Screen
  • Internet access
  • Copies of article from interest approach for each student
  • Large index cards for objective 2
  • 3 x 5” index cards for review
  • 8 ½ x 11” paper or larger
  • Markers
  • Tape or other means to affix index cards to wall/writing surface
  • Camera with video capability and/or smart phones
  • Cables to connect video devices to projector

Suggested Companion Resources

Vocabulary

  • Agricultural – relating to agriculture
  • Commodities – raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold
  • Communities – a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common
  • Ethanol – also called ethyl alcohol is produced from the fermentation of sugars by yeast. It is commonly found in drinking alcohol but can also be used as a fuel

Background – Agricultural Connections

Before teaching this lesson, the teacher should understand the basic chemistry of biofuels production and understand the difference between renewable and nonrenewable fuels. It is important to understand that biofuels can be made from any biomass (plant or animal matter) with small modifications to the process.

Interest Approach or Motivator

Locate a local and recent article in your area about how ethanol has impacted a local community or the commodity prices in your area and have students read through the article. Discuss the content of the article and then continue on with the content of the lesson.

Have students look at the article on biofuels and the agricultural industry. As they read it, think about the connections between the ethanol, biodiesel and agriculture. Have student volunteers read the article aloud for the class. Elicit discussion on what was learned.

According to this article, how has ethanol/biodiesel impacted our community? Elicit responses.

Procedures

OBJECTIVE 1. Identify the impact ethanol has on agricultural commodities.

Have students take two minutes to consider all the aspects of the agricultural industry and make as many connections related to ethanol. Write the connections down on a piece of paper and be prepared to share your connections with the class. Let students know when 1 minute is remaining, 30 seconds, 15 seconds. When two minutes are up, have students share the connections they recorded.

Some of the connections, like the connection between corn and ethanol are well known and visible. However, there are other connections between ethanol and agriculture that are not as easy to see.

Go through the material on the PowerPoint slide together as a class. Identify key information. Allow different student to read each item as it is displayed. Provide students time to identify the key information for each item.

  1. Ethanol provides a vital value-added market for corn and other commodities, providing an economic boost to rural America.
    1. Demand created by ethanol production can increase the price a farmer receives for grain.
    2. An increasing number of farmers are joining together in cooperatives to build ethanol production facilities - thereby directly taking advantage of the value-added market through ownership.
    3. In 2014, 14 billion bushels of corn were grown in the U.S. From that and other biomass, 14.4 billion gallons of ethanol were produced. Of the 14 billion bushels of field corn produced in 2013, 35% was used as livestock feed, 34% went to ethanol plants, 9% was exported, and 13% was saved as surplus. Of the 34% that went to ethanol plants, 1.1 billion bushels of corn in the form of DDGS were returned to feed livestock. U.S. farmers will meet the challenge of a diversified market: Food, exports and energy.
    4. Ethanol mixed fuel is typically cheaper and can save the U.S. consumer money.
    5. Ethanol production in the U.S. accounts for approximately 7% of the nation’s fuel supply or the equivalent of 9.5 billion gallons of crude oil.

ACTIVITY 1: Help students think critically, break down and summarize the information on the infographic by creating a short “TV news report”. News people have a short amount of time to convey a lot of important information to viewers and listeners. Students must determine the key aspects of the information, organize it and present it in a meaningful fashion. Brainstorm with students eliciting the key elements of a news report (who, what, when, where, why, etc). Have students think about how the important information we identified earlier could be put into a news report. Allow students the opportunity to determine the most important information from the content presented.

Split students into groups in groups of 2-3. Ideas for grouping include: pre-existing work groups, alphabetically by first or last name, count off, or cluster students who sit near each other. Ensure at least one group will address each of the three main considerations: feed, food, fuel.

Direct students to write a 30 second – 1 minute news report. When each group has created a report, choose one person who will present the report to the class. Have each group record their news report using a camera or personal devices such as smart phones. Allow 10-15 minutes at a minimum for groups to prepare and rehearse. If time permits, allow students to do their own additional research to gain more information on the issue.

Circulate the room to assist students in putting together news reports. Additionally, the instructor should monitor time to adjust for allowing more or less time as necessary.  Display the recorded news reports to the class. When finished, summarize the objective by reminding students of the key points from the content they identified earlier.

Check for understanding and comprehension. News reports should have all identified the impact ethanol has on agricultural commodities.

OBJECTIVE 2. Identify the impact ethanol has on agricultural communities.

Prior to class, instructor will need to transfer the following words and phrases to index cards, placing the pieces around the room. 274, price volatility, 14.5, corn grain, algae, greenhouse gas, 60, research, agriculture, plant operations, 85, 30

Ask students to think back to the impact(s) ethanol had on the local community from the news article the class read. Explain that there are other factors of ethanol that affect the agricultural community as a whole. Elicit responses. Validate or expand on responses based on the content of the article.

The factors we identified are part of the impact the ethanol industry has on our local community. Let’s see how ethanol impacts the agricultural community as a whole. Our task now is to consider these impacts.

Display the next PowerPoint slide. As you can see, we are missing some critical information from this handout. These critical pieces are recorded on cards placed around the room. When I say “Go”, stand up and search the room for the missing pieces. When you have found an item return to the front. Then as a group come up to the screen and figure out where they belong.

Have students tape/affix cards to the screen in the appropriate blanks. Guide students through discussion and ensure that all blanks are correctly filled.

  1. The production and use of ethanol and biofuels benefits our economy on all levels - local, state and national.
    1. In 2013, the United States spent approximately $274 billion on imported crude oil. Producing and consuming biofuels in the U.S. can help guard against oil price volatility, support the economy and strengthen our energy independence.
    2. Approximately 14.5 billion gallons of biofuels were consumed in the U.S. in 2013. Most biofuels are produced from corn grain, but they can also be produced from cellulose, and non-food sources like waste, energy crops and algae.
    3. Cellulosic biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60% when compared to petroleum-derived gasoline.
    4. Approximately 280,000 U.S. jobs have been created by the biofuels industry. These jobs include research, agriculture, engineering, construction, plant operations, and sales.
    5. By 2030 up to 85 billion gallons of biofuels could be sustainable produced in the U.S. each year. This would displace nearly 30% of the nation’s current petroleum consumption by volume.
REVIEW/SUMMARY

Use the student learning objectives to summarize the lesson. Review by playing a game of Jeopardy.

Prior to class the instructor should determine categories for questions. Suggestions include Dollars; Jobs; Crops/Grain; People & Groups. Using these, or other categories determined by the instructor, have students write facts from the lesson on 3x5 cards.

On a separate sheet of paper, have students write an appropriate question for each fact card created. Question writing primes students for the game. The instructor should then gather the fact cards by category and remove duplicates. Review the procedure for playing “Jeopardy” and make any modifications needed for your classroom. Finally, before playing, group students into teams.

Instructor should assist students in creating fact cards. Once students are finished creating fact cards, collect by category and review the procedure for playing Jeopardy.

Instructor will serve as the host and students will work in teams. All answers will be of equal value. Teams will gain control of the board by providing a correct question to an answer. Teams will ring in by having one person in the group raise their hand. Each person in the group must take a turn before another person can go a second time. Remember, you will respond with a question to each fact given.

As students provide answers to questions, take time to clear up any misunderstandings about the content. The instructor can keep score or groups can keep score. The instructor may wish to award a prize for the team with the most points at the end. The instructor can make the game more entertaining by taking on characteristics of the host. To determine which group goes first, have groups guess a number, flip a coin, or determine through “rock, paper, scissors”.

Answers to Evaluation:

True or False

  1. True
  2. False
  3. False
  4. True
  5. True

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)

Did you know? (Ag facts)

  •  In 2013, the United States spent approximately $274 billion on imported crude oil. Producing and consuming biofuels in the U.S. can help guard against oil price volatility, support the economy and strengthen our energy independence.
  • Approximately 14.5 billion gallons of biofuels were consumed in the U.S. in 2013. Most biofuels are produced from corn grain, but they can also be produced from cellulose, and non-food sources like waste, energy crops and algae.
  • Cellulosic biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60% when compared to petroleum-derived gasoline.
  • Approximately 280,000 U.S. jobs have been created by the biofuels industry. These jobs include research, agriculture, engineering, construction, plant operations, and sales.
  • By 2030 up to 85 billion gallons of biofuels could be sustainable produced in the U.S. each year. This would displace nearly 30% of the nation’s current petroleum consumption by volume.

Extension Activities

  • Students are to identify the current commodity price for corn, (Can be found through any source) and monitor the change over a seven day period. Students should also research and identify commodity prices for the same week one year prior. Based on their findings, students should be prepared to make an assertion as to the effect of ethanol production on the price of corn in the current marketplace.
  • Students can create a marketing plan for a local agricultural business associated with the ethanol industry.
  • Students can choose a career and prepare a poster presentation of the direct and in-direct connections and impacts between that career and the ethanol industry. Posters can be shared with the class and displayed throughout the community.

Sources/Credits

  • Adapted from Renewable Fuels Instructional Materials: Copyright © 2009 by National FFA Organization. Used by permission.
  • E-Moments® is a registered trademark of the National FFA Organization. Copyright © 2004 by National FFA Organization. Used by permission.

Author(s)

Will Fett

Organization Affiliation

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • Theme 2: Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber and Energy
    • Evaluate evidence for differing points of view on topics related to agricultural production, processing, and marketing (e.g., grazing; genetic variation and crop production; use of fertilizers and pesticides; open space; farmland preservation; animal welfare practices; world hunger)
  • Theme 3: Food, Health and Lifestyle
    • Evaluate the cost of food in the United States relative to other countries
  • Theme 4: STEM
    • Describe how agricultural practices have contributed to changes in societies and environments over time
    • Provide examples of how processing adds value to agricultural goods and fosters economic growth both locally and globally

Education Content Standards

  • HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.*
  • HS-ESS3-2. Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.*
  • 21.9–12.ES.1 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Communicate and work productively with others, incorporating different perspectives and cross cultural understanding, to increase innovation and the quality of work.
  • 21.9–12.ES.2 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Adapt to various roles and responsibilities and work flexibly in climates of ambiguity and changing priorities.
  • 21.9–12.ES.3 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Demonstrate leadership skills, integrity, ethical behavior, and social responsibility while collaborating to achieve common goals

Common Core Connections

  •  NL-ENG.K-12.6. Applying knowledge.
  • SL.9–10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one–on–one, in groups, and teacher–led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • SL.9–10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.