BioFutures: Biomass Energy Education Activity GuideCoverBioFutures.jpg

Understanding energy issues can help students prepare for the future in Wisconsin, the United States, and global communities. Wisconsin does not contain oil, coal, or natural gas reserves and is at the mercy of other states and nations for our energy needs. As the shift to renewable energy approaches, Wisconsin has to take stock of the renewable resources that are available. The most utilized renewable energy resource is wood burning in homes and industry.

Wisconsin is rich in biomass resources including closed landfills, animal manure, crops such as corn and soybeans, and forested land. Biogas is currently being produced at waste water treatment facilities, closed landfills, and large dairy farms. The use of ethanol, an alternative fuel made from corn, is increasing due to the increased cost of gasoline and pollution regulations placed on six southeastern counties in Wisconsin. Biodiesel is being made in large facilities and by motivated individuals throughout the state for their own use. The uses of more biomass energy forms are likely to increase as time passes. This biomass curriculum will help you teach your students about the pros and cons of biomass energy use in Wisconsin!

It is very important that students experience activities which will enable them to understand renewable energy and biomass energy concepts. Moreover, it is crucial that students gain an appreciation for renewable energy resources at an early age. This early awareness will support their further explorations of biomass energy resource development and use. BioFutures includes several activities that will support awareness of biomass energy resources.

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Guide Introduction
Cross-reference chart - Activities by Grade Level
Cross-reference chart - 
Activities by Subject Area 

Cross-reference chart - Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards
Cross-reference chart - Activities by Teaching Method
Cross-reference chart - Activities by Assessment Strategies


Advertising Biodiesel (Grades 6-8 / 9-12)
Students evaluate and categorize advertisements that promote the development and consumption of energy and then design their own advertisement for biodiesel.
Biofuel Beliefs (Grades 5-8 / 9-12)
Students use research skills to investigate various viewpoints surrounding the issue of ethanol as a fuel in Wisconsin.

Websites - General

Websites - History

Ethanol Articles
Limits of BioFuels (Pimentel article)
Biomass Gazette (Grades 7-8 / 9-12)
Students will act as reporters assembling a newspaper on biomass energy.
Community Design - It's a Gas (Grades 5-8 / 9-12)
Students identify current energy use practices and incorporate the use of energy from methane into community design. NOTE: This activity is best used as a conclusion to additional renewable energy or biomass energy lessons.
Corn in Your Car (Grades 9-12)
Through mapping and research, students measure the availability of ethanol-blended fuels in their community, and the environmental benefits of using these fuels.
Don't Waste Waste (Grades K-4 / 5-8)
Students “harvest” celery to demonstrate waste accumulation from timber practices and brainstorm uses for the waste products.
Grasses for the Masses (Grades 5-8)
Students will learn that different types of grass produce varying amounts of biomass by planting varieties of grasses and measuring their growth rate and leafy content.
Photosynthesis Promenade (Grades K-2 / 3-4)
Students simulate the process of photosynthesis through a whole-body demonstration.
Joanna Cole. The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds: A Book About How Living Things Grow. New York: Scholastic, 1995.
Joanna Cole. The Magic School Bus Gets Planted: A Book About Photosynthesis. New York: Scholastic, 1997.
Bobbie D. Kalman. How a Plant Grows.
Roadside Renewables (Grades 5-8 / 9-12)
Students build a model landfill, observe the decomposition process, and collect the gas that is emitted from the model.
Would You Heat with Wood (Grades 3-5)
Part One: Students write and illustrate a story about burning wood to demonstrate how energy comes from wood.
Part Two: Students review the efficiency of different wood-burning apparatuses.
Heating with Biomass: A Feasibility Study of Wisconsin Schools Heated with Wood

Fact Sheets
Heating Your Home Safely with Wood

Story Writing Tips for Kids
How to Write a Story