Three tracks at Ag Biotech Academy

The 2019 Ag Biotech Academy gave participants the opportunity to work through three different lab tracks: food, fuel, and skills. Thanks to the Ohio Soybean Council and Pioneer’s sponsorship, teachers went home with a supply kit for the labs of their choice.

Food: This track started with product development—how might you make a better Buckeye? Buckeye pretzel rods are easy to eat on the go. They had the opportunity to make and package this product. The teachers also fried potato chips in Plenish and regular soybean oil. In the Properties of Lipids lab, they identified characteristics of different types of lipids, then learned about fat digestion in the body. A variety of tests were performed, including a solubility test, a Sudan IV test, a saponification test, and an emulsion test.

Fuel: In this biodiesel lab, teachers investigated the question, Which biodiesel performs best, waste vegetable oil or virgin vegetable oil? They began by making the oil, mixing cooking oil with methanol and adding potassium hydroxide as a catalyst. The products separate into two layers, with biodiesel on top. Participants then separated and washed the biodiesel. The final step, testing the biodiesel, was done by using the product to power pop pop boats in a child’s wading pool.

Lab skills: How might we model a DNA base unit? Participants got into this with their whole bodies, forming double stranded DNA fragments by joining parts of their bodies as ‘nucleotides’. They simulated the creation of a herbicide resistant transgenic soybean with a paper model. After some practice with micro pipetting and gel loading, they went through a gel electrophoresis demonstration. Those who chose this kit received a gel electrophoresis kit, extra tips, and more.