Wednesday, April 17, 2013 – 12:45pm – Mrs. Andrea Harpen, High School Chemistry teacher and Alumna of the 2011 Teaching Fellowship program at Cornell University is making big strides in introducing her students to the concepts of Bioenergy and Bioproducts! Andrea, as a result of her participation in the Teaching Fellowship program at Cornell University and Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center (OBIC) at The Ohio State University, has developed a close collaboration with the OBIC. Since her participation in BBEP in 2011, Mrs. Harpen has teamed up with the Agriculture Science department at Blanchester High School to incorporate Bioenergy and Bioproducts content into both the Chemistry and the Agricultural Science Classroom. Among other experiments, Harpen’s students now practice making Biodiesel in their classroom and experiment with the chemical properties of Soy bioproducts!
In Mrs. Harpen’s classroom, students learn about the chemical properties of soybeans and soy products.
Mrs. Harpen, described by the Assistant School Principal as, “a model teacher at Blanchester High School,” is a Chemical Engineer by training, who has a new found interest in agriculture as a result of her participation in the BBEP Teaching Fellowship program at Cornell University. Mrs. Harpen now works to develop content for lessons and topics for science fair projects based on her experience during the 5 week intensive Teaching Fellowship program. Working with OBIC and the Ohio Soybean Council, she also has extended her experiences to develop and contribute a lesson plan for other teachers as well. While her community’s economy is largely based upon farming and agricultural products, Mrs. Harpen admits that prior to attending a BBEP workshop, she didn’t fully appreciate the breadth of careers encompased in the field of agriculture and had not previously encouraged her students to pursue the study of agriculture. After having attended the Bioenergy and Bioproducts Teaching Fellowship at Cornell and Ohio State, Harpen now innovates Chemistry lessons at the intersection of Agriculture. The once waning agriculture program at Blanchester High School has experienced a boost stemming from a collaboration between Mrs. Harpen and agriculture teachers who have both found ways to incorporate Bioenergy and Bioproducts topics into their classes and projects.
Mrs. Harpen’s students are enjoying the new challenge, too! In 2012, student’s from Harpen’s Chemistry class won 1st place at a Science Fair competition sponsored by the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Mrs. Harpen indicates that her students enjoy discovering how the crops many of them grow on family farms can be used to make “green products” that utilize waste streams (in the case of biodiesel) or agricultural resources (in the case of soy bioproducts) to create goods that are renewable and more environmentally friendly. (Contributed by Lauren Dowler.)