Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

High School Outreach

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What We Do

We want to make environmental education a part of every high school student's education. We use biodiesel as a working example of conservation, energy cycles, and sustainability. Here is some of the support we provide:

Program Background

In 2008, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Loyola University Chicago a People, Prosperity, and the Planet grant of $75,000 to launch a biodiesel educational outreach program to local high schools. The grant was co-authored by STEP: Biodiesel student Luke Beasley.

To fulfill this grant, we promised to use biodiesel production as an educational tool to teach thousands of high school students about biodiesel and renewable energy. Specifically, we committed to:

  • Implement an fellowship program which will provide professional experience to Loyola students interested in environmental and science education
  • Design and build ReAct (mobile biodiesel processor designed for education), each containing all of the equipment necessary to produce biodiesel
  • Set-up each MGEL at a different high school each semester, where students will convert waste vegetable oil from cafeterias into biodiesel
  • Empower teachers to use biodiesel as a science and environmental education tool
  • Publish a curriculum so that our novel approach to science education can be replicated elsewhere
  • Assist interested schools in the design and construction of permanent biodiesel labs

With this two year grant our high school outreach project has:

  • Designed and built four (4) MGELs that are currently deployed to partner high schools: Highland Park, Carl Sandburg, Bloom, and Victor Andrew
  • Paired each MGEL with a biodiesel powered generator and a deep fryer to enable teachers to demonstrate a closed-loop energy system at school events
  • Developed an inquiry-based, hands-on biodiesel curriculum that revolves around understanding biodiesel production in the MGEL
  • Hosted two (2) Professional Development Workshops for high schools teachers