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Osseo science class to learn about renewable energy

Posted by Theresa Novak '09, Coon Rapids on Wednesday, May. 9, 2007

Thirty-five ninth-grade students from Osseo (Minn.) Junior High School will learn about renewable energy and see firsthand how it can be utilized when they visit Morris on May 18. University of Minnesota, Morris Sustainability Coordinator Troy Goodnough will host students from Michael Mullin’s physical science class. Mullin requested the visit.

One stop during the daylong visit will be a tour of the wind turbine located at the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center. WCROC staff member Cory Marquart will talk about wind energy, the WCROC’s ongoing research project to turn wind into hydrogen (from water) and eventually into ammonia, which is a fertilizer used widely by farmers.

The group will visit the USDA-ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris. Research Scientist Jane Johnson will give a tour of the Soils Lab and then take the students to the research station at Swan Lake. Johnson will talk to students about soil conservation, carbon sequestration and potential biofuel crops. Students will see a plot of switch grass and also a weather observation station.

Students will also visit Denco, LLC, an ethanol plant in Morris. They will tour the plant and meet with chemist Dori Coler, who will discuss how ethanol is made.

They will also spend some time at UMM to learn about the green-friendly environment established by the campus community. A few of these practices include: using wind energy harnessed by the WCROC wind turbine (which powers about half of the campus buildings), recycling and local foods efforts and information about UMM's plans for a biomass gasification reactor.

"We are excited to host student tours here at UMM and in Morris,” said Goodnough. “This is a particularly special tour because it includes our friends at WCROC and the USDA Soils Lab. Morris is able to paint the ‘big picture’ about how renewable energy can be used now and in the future. The opportunity for visitors to learn about all of this in one trip demonstrates that Morris is definitely a destination."

UMM has hosted several outreach efforts this year, including a visit by Buffalo Middle School. This is the first time this specific tour, which features several community partners, will be given.

For more information on renewable energy and green initiatives at UMM, contact Troy Goodnough at Troy Goodnough.

Photo: Troy Goodnough and Buffalo Middle School students