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Innovative Practices Workshop: Woodchip Bioreactors (grades 3-5)

February 3, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - February 4, 2023 @ 3:00 pm

Workshop Description

The “Innovative Practices” workshop aims to reignite participants’ curiosity and empower teachers to become game-changers.  Experiences provide direct connections between Iowa’s K-12 science standards and the cutting-edge research on the Iowa State University campus.  Researchers and K-12 educators alike realize that science is not done in a series of rigid steps that only happen in a specific order and culminate with a perfect collection of data and results.  The New Vision for K-12 Science Education calls for learning science in authentic situations and understanding real-world phenomena.

Our workshop will provide a unique opportunity for elementary educators (focus on grades 3-5) with the opportunity to experience a high-quality curriculum designed around an ISU researcher’s body of work.  Our original Woodchip Bioreactor curriculum materials have been carefully designed for the 6-12 grade science classroom, but our NEW materials highlight learning and sensemaking in the elementary classroom.  All of our resources adhere to the Next Generation Science Standards and best practices aligned with the New Vision for Science Education and the K-12 Framework for Science Education.  Workshop resources and strategies will emphasize equity, community, creativity, and innovative teaching practice.

Highlighted Research – Woodchip Bioreactors

Dr. Michelle Soupir, a researcher at Iowa State University, is concerned about the health of our environment.  Since beginning her work at ISU in 2008, she and those working in her lab have studied various aspects of local watersheds and water quality.  The Soupir lab has a passion for learning about the existing threats to local bodies of water and what we can do to mitigate potentially harmful situations.

Some of their studies focus on using innovative strategies to remove nitrates from field runoff water.  These investigations often employ ‘woodchip bioreactors’ to house nitrogen-removing bacteria that lower nitrate levels before the runoff joins other bodies of water.  Dr. Soupir uses lab- and field-based research projects to monitor the occurrence, fate, and movement of nutrients and microorganisms in surface and drainage water.

In 2013, Dr. Soupir’s lab began a project on which this exciting workshop is based. Experimental woodchip bioreactors were designed and installed at the Agricultural Engineering Research Farm near Ames, Iowa. These pilot-scale woodchip bioreactors evaluate the nutrient removal from agricultural drainage water. Dr. Soupir’s students manipulate a variety of variables, including hydraulic retention times, bioreactor fill materials, and influent nutrient conditions to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the bioreactors and investigate ways to make bioreactors work better.

Major Activities

*Activities will provide participants with a deep understanding of the mechanisms involved in nitrate mitigation using woodchip bioreactors.
*Participants will interact with University researchers to learn about their work and how it is a context for student learning.
*Using newly-designed resources, participants will consider how university researchers engage with the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices.
*Participants will experience several activities and assessment challenges outlined in the curriculum materials.

Workshop Details:

*Dates (both meetings are required):
–Friday, February 3, 2023 from 5pm – 8pm **ONLINE**
–Saturday, February 4, 2023 from 9am – 3pm **IN-PERSON**
*Format:  Online and in-person
*Credit offered:  no
*Stipend offered: no
*Required paperwork: Iowa State University photo release form (will be sent out after processing your registration)
*Participant limit: 6

Workshop registration form:  https://forms.office.com/r/b1XYEjRGEf
Registration deadline: Friday, January 20, 2023

For additional information, please contact the Office of Biotechnology using the Contact Us form.

University Non-discrimination Statement
Iowa State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. Veteran. Inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies may be directed to Office of Equal Opportunity, 3410 Beardshear Hall, 515 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa 50011, Tel. 515 294-7612, Hotline 515-294-1222, email eooffice@iastate.edu
Publicity/Image/Voice Permission
The Office of Biotechnology normally takes photographs, video, and/or tape recordings of our programs.  During these workshops, a photograph or video/audio recording may be taken of you. Unless you request otherwise, your application will be considered permission for Iowa State University and the Office of Biotechnology to photograph, film, audio/video tape, record and/or televise your image and/or voice for use in any publications or promotional materials, in any medium now known or developed in the future without any restrictions.  If you object to ISU using your image or voice in this manner, please notify the Office of Biotechnology, in writing, at the time of your application. 


February 3, 2023 @ 5:00 pm
February 4, 2023 @ 3:00 pm
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Molecular Biology Building, Iowa State University campus
2437 Pammel Dr
Ames, IA 50011 United States
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