STEM Ambassadors Make Bio-diesel

A group of Year 8 students formed this year’s SA STEM Ambassador Team. We have been meeting together most Fridays during Terms 2-4 (Term 2 was to encourage STEM group skills through small challenges). Our two Ambassador leaders – Ella Thomson and Charlie Day – also attended a five-day STEM camp at Mylor in July.

During Terms 3 and 4, the team came up with a larger project that was both locally relevant and focussed on improving sustainability. We decided to make bio-diesel, and found a willing volunteer who would test it in their four-wheel-drive.

We negotiated with the Food & Hospitality kitchen staff to take their used cooking oil at the end of the term. The team researched several different production methods and completed a risk assessment for the practical experiment. The bio-diesel production process took a couple of weeks, which was followed by laboratory tests to ensure that the soap content was safe for use. Twenty litres of waste oil was refined to make twelve litres of bio-diesel.

Mr Michael Paech bravely volunteered his troopcarrier for the final testing phase of the project – once the troupie’s fuel tank was empty, the team’s bio-diesel was poured in and Peachy started it up. It ran smoothly with equal power, and only a slight whiff of fish and chips!

We would really like to thank the staff members who helped make this project a success – Ms Sandi Burke and of course, Mr Michael Paech. It was really exciting to see the end result.

~ Mrs Michaela Webb (Organising Teacher)

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