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Experiment allowed kids to create, learn about biofuels | Science + Technology | Lafayette Online
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Experiment allowed kids to create, learn about biofuels

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Indiana 4-H members and their peers across the nation created renewable energy in a Wednesday (Oct. 7) experiment.

4H_Biofuels_Blast_4CBiofuel Blast helped 4-H’ers better understand the process for producing fuel from crops, and built on science education that’s a regular part of the 4-H program, said Renee McKee, assistant director and program leader for Indiana 4-H youth development. The experiment took place on 4-H National Youth Science Day.

“Our goal through this experiment, known as Biofuel Blast, was to allow young people all over the state to learn about science and how it can be fun and how it has a necessary role in everyday life,” McKee said.

The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service and Indiana Corn Marketing Council co-sponsored Biofuel Blast in Indiana.

“Since this year’s experiment was corn-based, the Indiana Corn Marketing Council provided funding so that we could provide the base supplies to every county to help get them started,” McKee said. “It also allowed the youth to learn how corn products can be used as a source for alternative fuels,” McKee said.

During the experiment, 4-H members mixed yeast, corn syrup and warm water in a plastic bottle. They shook the mixture and placed a balloon over the bottle’s top. The balloon inflated with ethanol produced from mixing the yeast with the corn syrup.

4-H’ers also were able to try variations of the experiment by using other materials such as sawdust, dried leaves and cornmeal.

“The young people observed the variations on the experiment and recorded their results in a nationwide database,” McKee said.

Not only did Biofuel Blast allow participants to see how biofuels supply energy, but they also saw how they could learn about renewable energy through 4-H activities, she said.

“We hope 4-Hers left the Biofuel Blast experiment with the idea that projects like this can help further their education and possibly lead to a future career choice in the science field,” McKee said.

The Indiana Soybean Alliance is providing funding for a follow-up supplemental experiment for 4-H’ers in middle school and high school.

To learn more about 4-H National Youth Science Day, visit https://www.4-h.org/NYSD/

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