Two Mauston science teachers are bringing bioenergy science back to the classroom

by Krista Eastman - Senior Editor/Communications - Wisconsin Energy Institute Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
Mauston High School teachers Yvonne Butterfield (left) and Luke Heath (right) Mauston High School teachers Yvonne Butterfield (left) and Luke Heath (right)

Last week, two Mauston High School teachers, Yvonne Butterfield and Luke Heath, attended the Bioenergy Institute for Educators, a teacher workshop hosted by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Energy Institute.

Held from June 26-30th, the Bioenergy Institute for Educators is a three-day professional development program offering teachers the opportunity to learn about the latest developments in energy research and to discover practical tools and materials for teaching students the fundamentals of energy and sustainable energy systems.

During the institute, the Mauston teachers toured UW–Madison labs and field sites dedicated to developing cellulosic biofuels – biofuels derived from non-food crops such as switchgrass – and worked with eighteen other participating teachers to develop new classroom projects on key bioenergy concepts.

In addition, Butterfield and Heath will now spend the next six weeks at UW–Madison participating in a Research Experience for Teachers program. The teachers will be embedded in labs where they will both participate in cutting edge biofuel research and design relevant classroom activities for use in their Mauston High School science courses.

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center is one of three Bioenergy Research Centers created by the U.S. Department of Energy to promote transformational breakthroughs and build the foundation of new cellulosic biofuels technology. The Wisconsin Energy Institute is the center’s primary home.