Society & Culture

Second annual Bioenergy Day @ UGA to welcome seventh graders

Bioenergy Day Botanical Garden 2013-v. bubble
De-Erikious Dumas

Athens, Ga. – More than 400 Athens seventh-graders will experience firsthand how wood and other plant biomass generate energy at the second annual Bioenergy Day @ UGA on Nov. 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the State Botanical Garden.

UGA faculty and students will be on hand to guide students from Hilsman and Coile middle schools through the hands-on displays about producing renewable energy from biological sources.

UGA’s Bioenergy Systems Research Institute is organizing the event with collaboration from the UGA Office of Service-Learning, Office of Sustainability and State Botanical Garden.

Interactive exhibits were developed by staff from the BioEnergy Science Center, or BESC, and the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and departments from across UGA.

BESC staff at UGA and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed “Farming for Fuels” exhibits and lesson plans that teach basic concepts such as the carbon cycle; how woody biomass, such as trees and grasses, can produce biofuels; and the technical and economic obstacles to a bio-based fuel economy.

“Students will visit Farming for Fuels workstations that allow students to understand fundamentals of the complex nature of plant cell walls, the issues affecting the use of food versus nonfood crops to produce biofuels such as ethanol, and the mechanical differences between cars run by hydrogen, solar and wind power,” said Janet Westpheling, UGA professor of genetics, who leads education and outreach for the BESC.

UGA energy exhibits include photobioreactors and small-scale algae ponds; microscopes through which students will observe yeast, bacteria, algae and other microbes involved in bioenergy; microbes in a solar bioreactor using anaerobic digestion to break down waste materials; and demonstrations of how 3-D printing and augmented reality enhance research in the modern laboratory.

For more information about the event, see

UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute
The Bioenergy Systems Research Institute at UGA supports alternative energy, fuel and materials production through the conversion of biomass. The institute encourages and facilitates research projects in bioenergy that pool UGA’s strengths in forestry, environmental science and engineering with carbohydrate science, genetics and microbiology. The institute also supports education and training of scientists as well as outreach projects designed to involve public and private stakeholders in the development of next-generation bioenergy technologies. For more information, see

BioEnergy Science Center
BESC is a partnership of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Georgia and other university and industry partners. It is one of three bioenergy research centers established by Department of Energy in 2007 to accelerate progress toward development of liquid biofuels that add an affordable, sustainable, domestically produced option for the nation’s energy supply. The BESC team includes more than 300 researchers from 18 academic and commercial partners. BESC has partnered with the Creative Discovery Museum to educate and inform students about the basics of energy production and use. For more information, see