Fossil fuels are a finite resource and with a growing global population there is an urgent need to find alternative energy supplies. Oil, coal and natural gas are non-renewable and burning these fuels releases large amounts of greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Part of the solution could come from renewable bioenergy, which offers the promise of solving environmental, social and economic issues. This raises questions such as "Should we be using farm land to grow energy crops when food prices are rising?". The development and production of renewable liquid biofuels from plants and organic waste face challenges in public acceptance as well as scientific and technological improvements. Engaging the UK public with bioenergy and communicating the latest scientific research has focused on cutting edge scientific developments and opportunities for sharing views and opinions, often centered around advanced biofuels, transport, waste and feedstocks available in a temperate climate. In order to significantly enhance science education the decline of practical experimentation carried out in class was addressed with biofuel feedstock kits, a guide to related class practical experiments and discussion toolkits. The topic of biofuels provides a wide scope for developing students’ understanding of science and ample opportunity to facilitate discussion of controversial issues. These approaches reflect the specific needs of UK students and members of the public.  The development of the resources, activities and events is described with evaluation of the impact of the educational materials.  

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Engaging the public with bioenergy in the UK
Science education, communication and discussion

Tristan MacLean   Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Fossil fuels are a finite resource and with a growing global population there is an urgent need to find alternative energy supplies. Oil, coal and natural gas are non-renewable and burning these fuels releases large amounts of greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Part of the solution could come from renewable bioenergy, which offers the promise of solving environmental, social and economic issues. This raises questions such as "Should we be using farm land to grow energy crops when food prices are rising?". The development and production of renewable liquid biofuels from plants and organic waste face challenges in public acceptance as well as scientific and technological improvements. Engaging the UK public with bioenergy and communicating the latest scientific research has focused on cutting edge scientific developments and opportunities for sharing views and opinions, often centered around advanced biofuels, transport, waste and feedstocks available in a temperate climate. In order to significantly enhance science education the decline of practical experimentation carried out in class was addressed with biofuel feedstock kits, a guide to related class practical experiments and discussion toolkits. The topic of biofuels provides a wide scope for developing students’ understanding of science and ample opportunity to facilitate discussion of controversial issues. These approaches reflect the specific needs of UK students and members of the public.  The development of the resources, activities and events is described with evaluation of the impact of the educational materials.  

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