Mini-Grant Application for School Year 2017-2018

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

School: Buddy Taylor Middle School Type: Public Grade Levels:7,8 County:Flagler

Approx. Enrollment: 1000 Number of teachers:40

School Address:

4500 Belle Terre Parkway
Palm Coast, Florida 32164

Phone: 3864466700 Principal:John Fanelli Email:

Project Title: Eagles Take Climate Change and Sustainability Studies to the Next Level: Convert Switchgrass to Prod
Project Dates: November 1-May 30, 20 Grade Levels:

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

In order to expand on our grant awarded from last year, and continue our Classrooms to Careers focus on Agronomy, Biotechnology, and Engineering and our students’ understanding of sustainability and climate change issues, we have continued our switchgrass biomass growing trial partnership with Ernst Seed Company, Penn State University and Penn State University’s Center for Science and the Schools (CSATS) with the goal for this year being to convert the switchgrass that is grown to produce ethanol. At Buddy Taylor Middle School, we have two elective courses, STEM and Agriscience, as well as two clubs/ Chapters; 4H and FFA, that will continue to lead and carry out this project. We will use a combination of class periods and club meeting times to plan and carry out this portion of the project. We have worked to prepare the biomass growing trial plot for harvesting, and Ernst Seed Company provided four (4) varieties of switchgrass to plant and reseed as needed within the plot. We have continued to ensure plot establishment and health from August through September. We have also worked to collect data: growth rates, temperature, humidity, rainfall and other needed information from August and September. As this project continues, we will harvest the switchgrass biomass and dry it as we will work to get two harvests completed this school year so that we can work to convert the switchgrass to two different batches of ethanol. Our goal is to produce enough ethanol to power a motor during STEM nights and during community events as a attention getter for our students to share their project with our community members. Moving forward, all data collected by the STEM and Agriscience students will be shared with all seventh and eighth grade Science and Math courses at BTMS through a Google share drive. Our students will also prepare presentations on this project to share with other classes; keynotes, iMovies and other traditional presentation formats. At Ernst Seed’s direction, we will harvest this first crop in October, and the second in mid­-March. Our plan is to attempt to use what is harvested to create bioethanol. In order to complete this conversion 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 2018.


How is your project innovative?   (25 points)
This project is innovative in nature because it not only addresses 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. Since we are continuing this project, some of our eighth grade 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 through our steps to prepare for our first harvest of this school year. This project will continue to give our middle school students a very concrete understanding of the biofuels/ feedstock process from plot establishment and maintenance through the conversion process to end product. Our students will gain an appreciation and understanding of some of the frustrations that farmers face in the establishment of the switchgrass (establishment rates are not good when compared to other crops used for biofuel production), and then complete the process of harvesting, taking the switchgrass through the conversion process as we attempt to produce to batches of bioethanol and a bio­product (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 needed to address these issues as they encounter them in the future.

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 often difficult and 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 through the conversion process to end / final product of ethanol allows our students to actively work to understand all pillars of our school-wide 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

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 our elective courses, they are going to complete the process of growing feedstock materials, from seed to harvest to product production. Our goal is that we will be able to produce two batches of a biofuel: bioethanol, and eventually a bio­product in the form of switchgrass pellets. The types of learning experiences that will be provided with the support of this grant are not typically available for our students, due to lack of funding in the budget for this experiential learning opportunity. The ability to complete this project will have a very concrete impact on our students, and will allow them to make decisions on the topics of sustainability, bio­products 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 course or another. The Science and Math classes will have electronic access to the data that these growing trials and conversion processes produce. The students that are in the STEM or Agriscience elective courses will be able to discuss and lead the classes through this data, as well as on walking tours of the growing trials and conversion areas, explaining what they have observed, learned and the many stages that they have worked to complete 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 also generously supports our programs. We will have student tour guides that will lead groups through the growing areas and explain planning, growing,harvesting and conversion processes of the project and how they are carried out on our campus. These student groups will also present the project at School Board Meetings and other groups upon invitation.

How will technology be utilized?  (20 points)
The technology that we are requesting will be used to continue to collect the many data points as the varieties of switchgrass grow, through harvest the switchgrass and will then capture the process of how bioethanol is produced. The conversion materials that we are requesting are not currently found within our school building. Additionally, there is no one that we can borrow or rent these materials from anyone locally. We are asking/ will be purchasing two replacements HOBO sunlight, temperature, and moisture data logger pendants with these funds as one was stolen last year, and another has stopped working/ was damaged. These pendants will again be placed in all four sections of the growing trial field after harvest in October. The students will continue to 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. We will be purchasing field cameras that will be converted to solar power this school year, and 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, three of the most important pieces of technology that we will purchase with the support of these funds will be a switchgrass ethanol fermentation system, a small motor rated for ethanol, and the required safety equipment that will be used to monitor the fermentation processes. These materials are essential to our project, because these are the items that are going to help us convert the feedstock to the two batches of bioethanol that we are planning for this school year. In order to convert the switchgrass to ethanol, we will have to convert the oils found in the switchgrass to alcohol that we can then use to run a small engine. This conversion occurs through fermentation, and a raspberry-pi will be used to track temperature, pH, cooling and the many other important variables of this process. The ethanol burning motor will act as our attention getter/ discussion point to assist our students in the demonstration and discussion of this project and the effects on our school.

What evidence will you collect to show student gain?   (10 points)
Our students will be given pre and post surveys through the SurveyMonkey website and URL link. This survey will not only measure our students' interest in Science and 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 and projects that are completed and tests/ quizzes that the students complete. All outcomes of student learning and understanding will be embedded in course grades through those assessments and projects. 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 and follow-up interviews.

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 2018. 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 in our community to share our project as weather allows. Lastly, we will continue to reach out to the 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
Ethanol powered motor and Raspberry Pi Starter Kit with Pi3 system $300.00
Hobo Digital Data Logger Pendants $80.00 x 2 $160.00
Windscapes Solar Power Panel $70.00 x 2 $140.00
Ethanol fermentation system (all components) $2000.00
All acids, chemicals and safety equipment $400.0
Total Cost of Project $3000.00
If matching funds identified list source: N/A/
Donated Goods/Services:$3000.00 Terra Grant materials purchased from 2016 $3,150.00

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 John Fanelli,the Principal of Buddy Taylor Middle School and any other individuals required by my school district.