Students at Eisenhower High School in Goddard Make Ethanol

(Denise Scribner) Well, I’m so excited to have you visiting today because it shows what we’re doing in our classroom and how we’re extending the science into our agricultural network here that we have around us in Goddard. We’re just so excited to be doing – I’ve been wanting to do this lab for seven years, but we just didn’t have the financial resources. Then I spoke at the annual meeting of Kansas Ag in the Classroom Foundation and I mentioned that, “Too bad we can’t do this because we just don’t have the glassware and it’s quite expensive.” A gentleman right out of the audience came up, gave me his card, Geoffrey from ICM and he came up and said, “Would $500 help you get started?” and he donated $500 and then Kansas Corn caught a hold of it, the Kansas Corn Commission, they came up with some additional funding and Kansas Renew finished off the top so we could have some six complete distillation sets. That way I have three sets per class and it’s just not kids observing something, it’s them doing a hands-on application to the distillation process of the corn and milo into ethanol gasoline. (Siera Vanderhoef) Okay, my name is Siera Vanderhoef and I’m a junior at Eisenhower High School and this year we got the opportunity to go to the Pratt Ethanol Plant; actually got to see like how big the process actually is and what they use. They have to put it in these giant tin cans; some of them were like 150,000 gallons full of corn mash and stuff like that. Then we were able to go to a lab and see actually how the process works in such a smaller scale and then them testing it. That’s what we did back here; it’s the lab work and stuff like that. (Marccus Skeels) My name is Marccus. I’d probably say the coolest part would be the chemistry part because at that plant we learned that there was two major categories and everything. One was chemistry and the others were like the actual workers that would go outside and make it. On this one, I got to be the chemist with my friend and everything and it was pretty fun. We had to mix a bunch of stuff and it got a little confusing, but our teacher helped us out. (Siera) We were provided with this equipment and it was just a fun opportunity thing to do. We do have some data that we have to fill out and that’s probably how it’s going to be graded and see if we have the correct numbers and calculations. So we’d have to let it boil and then once it started boiling, we had to make sure that it wouldn’t rise to where it would go out the wrong flask part and then we had a funnel and a little tube where we would pour water down the tube so it would keep it cool so it would turn into a liquid back again after it evaporated into a gas. So it would go back into a liquid form and that’s how we got the ethanol from it. (Marccus) I personally want to be an engineer and I just never thought that there’d be a job thing out there that you could be an engineer to work on ethanol gas and everything else. (Denise) The job opportunities are boundless in agriculture. I try to educate my students in that because all they think of is the farmer behind the wheel of a tractor. They don’t think of the individuals that supply the farmer with all their feedstock or the materials that they need to grow their crops, all the chemists, biologists, all of the agricultural support personnel at our wildlife parks and our soil commission, and all those individuals, the geologists, the watershed people. Every time we have a unit, we go over every single job that can be possibly created from that industry and that application of the information. I always put agricultural ties to it because after all we’re an agricultural state.

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