Mini-Grant Application for School Year 2016-2016

Submitted by: Andrew Medearis Email: Grade Level: 7th and 8th Subject: Science, Math, STEM
Co-Applicant:R.D. Davis Email: davisr@flaglerschools.comGrade level: 7th, 8th Subject: Agriscience

School: Buddy Taylor Middle School Type: Public Grade Levels:7th and 8th gra County:Flagler

Approx. Enrollment: 1100 Number of teachers:40 % of Free and Reduced Lunch:80+%

School Address:

Buddy Taylor Middle School 4500 Belle Terre Pkwy Palm Coast, FL 32164

Phone: 386-446-6700 Principal:Nathan Lovelette Email:

Project Title: Eagles are Tomorrow's Climate Change and Sustainability Problem Solvers and Data Collectors
Project Dates: September -June 2017 Grade Levels:

Focus Area(s) :Climate Change- Environmental Science- Sustainability - Biofuels and Bioproducts

In order to expand on our Classrooms to Careers focus on Agronomy, Biotechnology, and Engineering and our students’ understanding of sustainability and climate change issues, we have planned and created a switch grass biomass growing trial partnership with Ernst Seed Company, Penn State University and Penn State University’s Center for Science and the Schools (CSATS). At Buddy Taylor Middle School, we have two elective courses, STEM and Agriscience, as well as two clubs; 4H and FFA, that will take the lead on this project. We will use a combination of class periods and club meeting times to plan and carry out this project. We have worked to prepare the biomass growing trial plot for planting, and Ernst Seed Company have provided four (4) varieties of switch grass to plant within the plot. We will plant seed and work to get it well established through September and October and we also work to collect data: growth rates, temperature, humidity, rainfall and other needed information from September to March. The data will be shared with all seventh and eighth grade Science and Math courses at BTMS. Our students will also present their project to other classes as needed, through keynotes and in class presentations. At Ernst Seed’s direction, we will harvest this first crop in mid-March. Our plan is to attempt to use what is harvested to create biodiesel and bioethanol. In order to complete this process, we need to purchase the appropriate supplies and materials, which will hopefully be supported by this grant. We will present our project, information, and outcomes at the Buddy Taylor Middle School Science/ STEM night that will be held in April of 2017.

1. How is your project innovative? (25 points) This project is innovative in nature because it not only address true sustainability, climate change, and environmental science concerns and research that is occurring at this time, but also because it is a hands-on project that involves our middle school students. Our students have been a part of this process- from measuring out the test plot, to assisting in clearing the plot, to marking the sections and then assisting in the seeding and establishment of the seed. This project will give them a very concrete understanding of the biofuels/ feedstock process from beginning to end. They will understand the frustration that farmers face in the establishment of the switchgrass (establishment rates are not good when compared to other crops), and then complete the process of harvesting, attempting to make biodiesel/ bioethanol and then a bio-product (switchgrass moisture absorbing pellets). As future leaders, voters, and consumers it is important for our students to understand the many issues- Sustainability, Climate Change and other environmental challenges- that will be faced in the future- and have the knowledge to try to solve and correct them. This project will give our students that understanding of these issues and the knowledge to address these issues. 2. How will it fit into your curriculum (include standards)? (10 points) This project easily lends itself to both the Agriscience and STEM courses here at Buddy Taylor Middle School. In our Agriscience classes, our students work to establish crops and take them from seed to producing plant. This knowledge will be applied to the switchgrass trial, since the establishment of this perennial grass is not that different than crops (establishment is problematic) this aligns easily with the content that is expected from this course. Our STEM Course and learning is aligned with our classroom to connections focus pillars of Agronomy, Biotechnology and Engineering. Working to complete this project allows our students to actively work to understand all pillars in this of our focus. Standards that will be addressed in this project: 7th Grade Standards: SC.7.N.1.1- Define a problem from the seventh grade curriculum, use appropriate reference materials to support scientific understanding, plan and carry out scientific investigation of various types, such as systematic observations or experiments, identify variables, collect and organize data, interpret data in charts, tables, and graphics, analyze information, make predictions, and defend conclusions. SC.7.N.1.3- Distinguish between an experiment (which must involve the identification and control of variables) and other forms of scientific investigation and explain that not all scientific knowledge is derived from experimentation. SC.7.L.15.2- Explore the scientific theory of evolution by recognizing and explaining ways in which genetic variation and environmental factors contribute to evolution by natural selection and diversity of organisms. SC.7.L.16.4- Recognize and explore the impact of biotechnology (cloning, genetic engineering, artificial selection) on the individual, society and the environment. SC.7.L.17.3- Recognize and explore the impact of biotechnology (cloning, genetic engineering, artificial selection) on the individual, society and the environment. SC.7.E.6.6- Identify the impact that humans have had on Earth, such as deforestation, urbanization, desertification, erosion, air and water quality, changing the flow of water. SC.7.P.11.2- Investigate and describe the transformation of energy from one form to another. SC.7.P.11.3- Cite evidence to explain that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only changed from one form to another. 8th Grade Standards: SC.8.N.1.1- Define a problem from the eighth grade curriculum using appropriate reference materials to support scientific understanding, plan and carry out scientific investigations of various types, such as systematic observations or experiments, identify variables, collect and organize data, interpret data in charts, tables, and graphics, analyze information, make predictions and defend conclusions. SC.8.N.1.2- Design and conduct a study using repeated trials and replication. SC.8.N.1.5- Analyze the methods used to develop a scientific explanation as seen in different fields of science. SC.8.N.1.6- Understand that scientific investigations involve the collection of relevant empirical evidence, the use of logical reasoning, and the application if imagination in devising hypotheses, predictions, explanations, and models to make sense of the collected evidence. SC.8.N.4.1- Explain that science is one of the processes that can be used to inform decision making at the community, state, national, and international levels. SC.8.N.4.2- Explain how political, social, and economic concerns can affect science, and vice versa. SC.8.L.18.1- Describe and investigate the process of photosynthesis, such as the roles of light, carbon dioxide, water and chlorophyll; production of food; release of oxygen. SC.8.L.18.3- Construct a scientific model of the carbon cycle to show how matter and energy are continuously transferred within and between organisms and their physical environment. SC.8.L.18.4- Cite evidence that living systems follow the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy. SC.8.P.8.3- Explore and describe the densities of various materials through measurement of their masses and volume. SC.8.P.8.4- Classify and compare substances on the basis of characteristic physical properties that can be demonstrated or measured; for example, density, thermal or electrical conductivity, solubility, magnetic properties, melting and boiling points, and know that these properties are independent of the amount of the sample. SC.8.P.9.1- Explore the Law of Conservation of Mass by demonstrating and concluding that mass is conserved when substances undergo physical and chemical changes. SC.8.P.9.2- Differentiate between physical changes and chemical changes. SC.8.P.9 .3- Investigate and describe how temperature influences chemical changes. 3. How will it encourage long-lasting change in your classroom, school or community? (20 points) This project will encourage long lasting change in our classrooms, school and community. For the students that are in the elective classes, they are going to complete the process of growing feedstock materials, from seed to harvest to product production. The hope is that we will be able to produce two biofuels: biodiesel and bioethanol, and eventually a bio-product in the form of switchgrass pellets. These types of learning experiences are not typically available for our students. The ability to complete this project will have a concrete impact on our students, and will allow them to make decisions on the topics of sustainability, bio-products and alternative energy sources as they grow older. This project will also have impact on our school and community because it will reach all students in one way or another. The Science and Math classes will have access to the data that these growing trials produce. The students that are in the STEM or Agriscience elective courses will be able to discuss and lead the classes through the data, as well as on walking tours of the growing trials, explaining what they have observed and completed in the project. The community will also be involved in this project, through Science and STEM open house nights, and through our local education foundation, which supports our program. We will have student tour guides that will lead groups through the growing areas and explain planning, growing and harvesting processes of the project. These student groups will also present the project at School Board Meetings and other groups upon invite. 4. How will technology be utilized? (20 points) The technology that we are requesting will be used to collect data points as the varieties of switchgrass grow, harvest the switchgrass and then process to biodiesel/ bioethanol. These are not materials that are currently within our school building or that we can borrow from anyone locally. We will be purchasing HOBO Sunlight, temperature, and moisture data logger pendants that will be placed in all four sections of the growing trial field. The students will go out weekly to download the data from these pendants and then upload the data to a Google Share folder that our Math and Science classes can then access from their classroom. Our students will also take growth measurements of the different varieties of switchgrass and post these results weekly. Additionally, we will be purchasing field cameras that will be set to take time lapse pictures of the switchgrass as it grows. Our students will also download these pictures from the cameras weekly and upload them to the share folder within the school and the share folder with our partners, Ernst Seed Company and the Penn State University. Finally, two of the most important pieces of technology that we will purchase with the support of these funds will be a five and one half (5 ½) sickle bar mower and a commercial screw press. These materials are essential to our project, because these are the items that are going to help us harvest the switchgrass and then convert the feedstock to biodiesel/ bioethanol. The sickle bar mower will attach to the small tractor that we have at our school, and will allow us to cut the switchgrass much easier than hand harvesting would. The screw press will be used to extract the oils from the switchgrass that are needed to convert the methanol to biodiesel or bioethanol chemically. 5. What evidence will you collect to show student gain? (10 points) Our students will be given pre and post surveys through Survey Monkey that not only measures interest in Science, all aspects STEM, but also STEM Careers. We will analyze survey data for increase in STEM thinking, STEM interest and STEM careers. Our students will also be evaluated on knowledge gained through discussions through work completed and tests/ quizzes. Outcomes of student learning and understanding will be embedded in course grades through those assessments. Our students will also conduct tours to student groups, community member groups, and media that will then be asked to evaluate the tour by using a short online survey form. 6. How will participants share your project results with the community? (15 points) Our students will present our project, information, and outcomes at the Buddy Taylor Middle School Science/ STEM night that will be held in April of 2017. We will also attend our local school board meetings and present our findings there, post them on our school website, and attend first Friday events to share our project as weather allows. Lastly, we will reach out to local news agencies and attempt to put articles into the paper and online resources to let people know that cannot make it to the building and other events what is happening in our building.


Service/ Item Description Cost
Commercial Screw Press $1,300.00
Sickle Bar Mower $1,000.00
Plant Observation Cameras $90.00 x 2= $180.00 $180.00
HOBO Digital Data Logger Pendants $80.00 x 4= $320.00 $320.00
Miscellaneous Supplies- Chemical to wash switchgrass oil, unforeseen expenses with equipment, shippi $200.00
Total Cost of Project $3000.00
If matching funds identified list source: n/a
Donated Goods/Services:Switchgrass seed approx. $150.00 $150.00
Total Requested From TERRA $3000.00

I, Andrew Medearis, certify that the application is complete and final, AND I verify that I have received permission to apply for these funds from Nathan Lovelette ,the Principal of Buddy Taylor Middle School and any other individuals required by my school district.