Teachers explore renewable energy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Teachers explore renewable energy

July 31, 2006

Tifton-- With concerns about global warming and gas prices nearing three dollars a gallon, alternative fuels are getting a lot more attention. For the next three days, they'll be the focus of a conference in Tifton.

Farmers, educators and researchers will explore the future of alternative fuels and other energy resources.   The Georgia Bioenergy Conference will bring people from all over the world to discuss different aspects of bioenergy. Teachers learned how to instill the basics of the technology into our future leaders.  

It's not often you find teachers on the opposite end of the learning stick. Today's lesson for teachers, fuel cell technology.

"They're generating electricity and using that electricity to split water," says Jim Bosch of the National Renewable Energy Lab.

Teachers feverishly pump this hand generator to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and the work has a purpose.

"This is a clean energy source," says Bosch. A renewable energy source that could power things as big as cars and buses.  Teachers from all over Georgia are learning about ways to convert products into renewable energy. The goal is to then take that knowledge into the classroom.

"Every teacher can find a way to make biofuels a relevant topic," says Berrien High science teacher Landon Alberson.

Alberson has studied alternative fuels for the past several weeks. He's now teaching other teachers how to implement ethanol into their curriculums.  It's already worked wonders in his classroom.

"It makes my curriculum come to life," says Alberson. The energy is the same in Erin Gawron's chemistry class at Heritage High School.  Her focus is biofuels.

"We've even taken an old diesel car and converted it to run on straight vegetable oil that we got from our old cafeteria," says Gawron. Alberson's class used peanut oil and he's so confident in the emerging technology that his students will drive their own fueled biodiesel truck to Gawron's high school in North Georgia.

"Her students are going to fuel it up and send it back. Is that a deal?," asked Alberson of Gawron. "That's a deal," said Gawron.

Doing that gets an interest in students.  They could be the future in the implementation of bioenergy technology. For now, the teachers will have fun setting it in motion.

The idea of today's workshop isn't new.  The GIFT Program founded in 1991, partners teachers with scientists for internships. This helps teachers give their students detailed lessons before they even reach the textbook.

The Bio-energy conference is at the University of Georgia's Conference Center in Tifton and runs through Thursday.

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