School receives Monsanto grant for bio-fuels program

On Jan. 24, 2014, Monsanto Company, Missouri Soybean Association, National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association and Rockwood Summit High School announced the establishment of the Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions.

The center will be housed in a new building constructed on Rockwood Summit’s campus and will include an area where students and advisors can plant row crops to study how plants such as corn and soybeans produce a renewable source of fuel. RSHS_Biofuel (1)

“The center will educate the community on the potential of renewable fuel, stimulate academic achievement in science and math,” explained Rockwood Summit Chemistry teacher Tracie Summerville, “and encourage the development of more students pursuing math and science-related careers.”

The Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions will serve as a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) educational resource for teachers and students in the St. Louis community who want to experience hands-on, project-based learning on the fundamentals of biofuels, specifically biodiesel.

“Sometimes, dreams come true!” said Rockwood Summit Science teacher Darrin Peters. “We believe the Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions will be one of the most successful ways to keep kids involved in math and science and develop them into lifelong critical thinkers and learners. We can’t wait to get started!”

For the past four years, the RSHS biodiesel project has become a leading program for K-12 STEM in the St. Louis region. Student work includes executing experiments to convert waste vegetable oil into biodiesel and designing methods to test biodiesel quality. They also determine the fuel energy’s content for comparison to petroleum diesel and test horsepower and torque of school-owned vehicles running on the fuel.

The new Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions will allow enhancement of this study and provide thousands of students from all around the metropolitan St. Louis area access to its science knowledge and understanding. “The amazing things Rockwood Summit students are accomplishing here do more than advance their personal growth in math and science. They help all of us understand the importance of sustainability” said Deborah Patterson, Monsanto’s VP of Employee Engagement and Global Contributions, who presented school officials with a $100,000 grant from the company in support of the new center. “We, as well as future generations, will all benefit from the passion these students have to make a difference and what they will continue to achieve through their study at the new Monsanto Education Center for Sustainable Solutions.”

“We are incredibly thankful that Monsanto has given our school the opportunity to expand the renewable fuel project. We are looking forward to improving our community with the education we provide with our new learning center,” said Rockwood Summit junior Lydia Fletcher.

The Missouri Soybean Association is also contributing an additional $6,500 for educational supplies needed to operate the center.

“The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC) is encouraged by Rockwood Summit High School’s Biodiesel Club. Their innovative idea will benefit not only their group and community today, but also future generations. Knowing young people are actively involved in this pursuit provides a promising future for renewable fuels and for soybean farmers in this state,” says Will Spargo, MSMC Chairman and soybean farmer, from Neelyville, Mo. “The MSMC understands and values education. We are thrilled these students and their instructors understand the importance of biodiesel, a domestically-produced renewable fuel, and the role it can play in promoting math and science-related careers.”

The Ethanol Committee from the National Corn Growers Association has pledged $5,000 to the effort. In addition, Rockwood would like to thank the local business community for their continued support of this educational initiative for the students at Rockwood Summit High School.

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