The curriculum has two segments: a presentational slide show and a hands-on multi-tasking active segment containing 5 activity stations. We held the slide show in one room and the activity stations in a gymnasium.
The slide show presentation can address a large group -- we found that 50 or 60 seventh grade students was not too large. The slide presentation has about 15 + slides, so figuring on at least two minutes per slide that's about a 40 minute presentation. We reproduced the slides as a handout for the students so they will have reference material after the workshop.
The five "stations" of activities/demonstrations. While one group of 50 students participated in the slide show, the other group of 50 students divided into 5 small groups. Each group proceeded to an activity station to learn one piece of the cycle. A school personnel person moved with each group and a Green Start personnel person was conducted the activity at each station. The stations have varying complexities--we had guided questions at each station and both a Green Start person and a teacher.
Station 1. Farm: conversation about growing sunflower seed crop. Poster of fields planted in sunflowers, being harvested. Sack of New Hampshire grown and harvested sunflower seeds shown and handled. Hand-cranked oil-expeller used to extract oil -- a little dribble is enough. Students have a chance to crank. Students understand the pressure needed to crush the seeds and extract oil, comparison to vegetable oils in stores. Some of he oil will be sent to Station 2 the “restaurants” or “movie theatre” for food use. The “Farmer” explains that the crushed sunflower seed hulls become high-protein livestock feed. Students have an opportunity to feed some of the seedcake to 2 live chickens in a cage.
Station 2. Restaurant or Movie Theater: Poster of frying chicken nuggets and pouring off waste oil to collect it. If this station is in the school cafeteria could actually cook a snack and/or collect the waste oil. We could not do that but rented a movie-style popcorn popper and popped corn using sunflower oil. Students were given small bags of popped corn (in biodegradable bags of course). The restaurant owner then appointed astudent to carry a bottle of waste oil to Station 3 for processing into biodiesel fuel.
Station 3. Biofuel Producer. This station was staffed by a Geeky Scientist in a white lab coat. While he was not permitted to actually process biodiesel because of liability concerns, he did demonstrate the process. The process resulted in two products: biodiesel to be sent to Stations 4 and 5: the Toy and Cosmetics Station and the Engine Station.
Station 4. Toy station and Cosmetic Manufacturer - At this station, a “manufacturer” greets the students and provides them with glycerin mixed with water to make bubble-blowing stuff. We found the recipe for this on line but the store-bought bubble-blowing liquid was very convenient. The children then had an opportunity to blow bubbles. Also at this station was a large array of hand lotion and other cosmetics that use glycerin and students could put some hand cream on.
Station 5. Machinery. For this station we had hoped perhaps to have a generator running on biofuel which would be sending power over to power the popcorn popper! However, a generator can be very noisy. Therefore, instead we sent the students outside where they were supervised to pour their mason jar of biodiesel fuel into the fuel tank of a diesel car. The car was then started and a line running from the plug on the dashboard powered an electric lightbulb.
After all the students have completed the circuit, they re-grouping for reflection. The hand-out booklets had extra pages for notes, a crossword puzzle of biodiesel and sustainability words, or other pages you might want to include about their upcoming projects