Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
site header image

Biofuels Webquest: Biofuels

Biofuels

Biofuels

READY:

 

The global oil shortage has finally arrived! Oil is running out and the gas shortage is becoming a crisis.

This crisis has been predicted for years and now it has really begun.  Oil usage worldwide has increased to where the oil supply can’t meet the demand.  

 

Envision how the world will react to this shock.  Our government is very concerned and action needs to be taken before this calamity truly gets out of hand. 

Fortuitously your response to this predicament is clear.  You are part of a group of research biologists working on enzymes at the University of San Francisco.  This news comes as a shock to the country but not to your group.  You and your fellow biologists have been working on alternative fuels for some time now.  Yet your lab is running low on funds.

 

Your lab team has just received word from the National Science Foundation that they are prepared to provide one research lab or University lab with 20 million dollars to investigate the possibilities of the widespread use of biofuels as an alternative to oil or to supplement oil usage.  Your group wants to receive that grant money!

 

This video is about a biotechnology company researching biofuels as an alternative to oil. 

http://www.teachersdomain.org/asset/biot09_vid_ethanol/


You know that if your group of scientists can collect compelling data USF will receive the grant money to continue the study of biofuel enzymes.  But it’s never easy. Many people in the country and in the world still believe oil is and always will be the answer to everyone’s energy needs. 

 

There is even strong opposition to biofuels even at USF.  For example, members of the chemistry department research oil production and they feel that it’s a waste of time to try for this grant money.  So before you apply for the grant funds the science department chair at USF feels that a biofuels debate is required within the department in order to legitimize the application. 

 

While you prepare for the debate you then realize the truth is that converting to biofuels has pros and cons.  You feel that knowing all perspectives are important and that’s going to require some gathering of data.  Research is needed. 

 

In order to prepare for the debate with the chemistry department you decide to randomly divide your bio lab group into two groups and assign one group to support and the other to oppose the development and use of cellulosic ethanol technology for biofuel production. This seems like the best way to prepare for the real day.

 

 

SET:

 

Web Based Research

·       Students conduct research on the development and use of cellulosic ethanol technology for biofuel production.

·       Teams will compile research from all members of the group:  Groups are asked to take notes on their Notability  App.


·       Teams write 4-minute opening statements and assign spokespersons

 

This Internet search will be a web quest of knowledge gathering: Your group will want to create a shared Google doc to record you findings. 


Pro/Con Data Sheet

Make a list of why we should use cellulosic ethanol technology for biofuel production (include references).

Make a list of why we should not use cellulosic ethanol technology for biofuel production (include references).

If you are pro, find research to refute the con. If you are con, find research to refute the pro. Include these in your opening or closing statements.

Web resources

Probing Poop For Cellulose-Chomping Microbes

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/09/16/2011/probing-poop-for-cellulose-chomping-microbes.html

Eco-Boat Breaks Speed Record

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/07/18/2008/eco-boat-breaks-speed-record.html

'Fields of Fuel' Film Looks at Biodiesel

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/01/18/2008/-fields-of-fuel-film-looks-at-biodiesel.html

Oil from Diatoms

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/06/26/2009/oil-from-diatoms.html

Biofuel Roundup

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/04/30/2010/biofuel-roundup.html

Studying Global Warming in Biosphere 2

http://www.teachersdomain.org/asset/wnet08_vid_wnetglobal/

National Geographic

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/biofuel-profile/

Biofuels from algae

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2008/jun/26/algae

 

Chevron turning trash into treasure

http://www.chevron.com/deliveringenergy/biofuels/

Ethanol from cellulose

http://www.energyfuturecoalition.org/biofuels/fact_ethanol_cellulose.htm

Biofuels: The Cellulose Barrier - Futuris

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am4FzMJI9G4


Cellulolytic Enzymes

http://www2.technologyreview.com/article/409591/tr10-cellulolytic-enzymes/

 

Anti-Biofuel sites:


The biofuel belt keeps creeping across the US – and it's wildlife that loses out

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2013/mar/01/biofuel-habitat-loss-usa

 

What’s holding biofuels back?

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/420136/whats-holding-biofuels-back/

 

The First Commercial Cellulosic Plant is NOT About to Open

http://theenergycollective.com/robertrapier/86156/first-commercial-cellulosic-plant-not-about-open

 

 

GO:

 

 

 The Debate

 

Debate Format:


Opening Statement: 
Proponents of cellulosic ethanol technology for biofuel production present an opening statement outlining the benefits of cellulosic ethanol technology
(4 minutes).
Break: Opponents assemble a list of questions they believe show holes in the proponents’ argument (2 minutes).
Questions: Opponents present questions (2 minutes).
Opening Statement: Opponents of cellulosic ethanol technology for biofuel production present an opening statement outlining the reasons cellulosic ethanol technology should not be allowed (4 minutes).
Break: Proponents assemble a list of questions they believe show holes in the oppositions’ argument (2 minutes).
Questions: Proponents present questions (2 minutes).
Rebuttal: Proponents present answers to opponents’ questions (2 minutes).
Rebuttal: Opponents present answers to proponents’ questions (2 minutes).
Closing arguments: Opposing view (3 minutes).
Closing arguments: Supporting view (3 minutes).

 

 

Grading Ruberic for the debate:

 

Opening Statements

4 = Eloquent, very well organized, researched, and presented.
3 = Well organized, researched and presented.
2 = Somewhat organized, researched and presented.
1 = Lacking organization, partially correct research, not well presented.

 

Questions

4 = Questions were thoughtful, raised legitimate concerns, were research based and were well presented.

3 = Questions were somewhat thoughtful, raised some concerns, and were well presented.

2 = Questions were not research based, did not raise legitimate concerns, or not well presented.

1 = Questions were unrelated to the subject, did not raise legitimate concerns, or not well presented.

 

Rebuttal

4 = Students used research to directly refute the questions.
3 = Students used research to partially refute the questions.
2 = Students improperly used research to attempt to refute the questions. 1 = Students did not refute the questions.

 

Closing Statements

4 = Closing statement was eloquent, very well organized, presented.

3 = Closing statement was well organized, researched, and presented.

2 = Closing statement was somewhat organized, researched, and presented.

1 = Closing statement lacked organization, used partially correct research, and was not well presented.

 

Working as a team member (as ranked by other team members)

4 = Fully participated and contributed to the team. 3 = Participated and contributed to the team.
2 = Partially participated, somewhat helpful.
1 = Little participation, little help.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Jennifer Jourdain
Contact:
Montachusett Regional Voc Tech School
1050 Westminster Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
jourdain-jennifer@montytech.net
(978) 345-9200 x5125
Website