At Bethel-Tate High School, Samantha Williams’ honors biology students performed the fermentation in a bag lab. Each student group created their own experiment plan to test their chosen variables.
Students then added various enzymes, yeast, various feedstock/corn stock, and warm water to snack size baggies. Then they measured the height of each bag to see how much they inflated. Students also used a breathalyzer to determine alcohol content, which showed how well the feedstock/corn stock fermented.
Students recorded their data on a data table and created line graphs to demonstrate which feedstock fermented the most. Wiliams said, “The students were intrigued with the breathalyzers and were surprised how much the snack baggies expanded. Most thought that corn syrup would have the greatest effect but actually the cracked corn seemed to be the overwhelming winner.”
Williams said it is hard to find good fermentation labs that a college prep freshmen biology course can successfully complete. She plans to do a more advanced version of this lab using the lab quest with her honors class next year.
This was a test run with her honors class to see if it might be successful in CP. Williams said she will have to be more controlled with the set-up, not allowing them to create their own experiments, and they will all need to use the same variables. If the breathalyzers became a distraction, she would have them only measure the height of the baggies for data. “This will be adjusted on a class by class, year by year basis depending on the maturity of the students. But overall this is a solid lab that I can use year after year to actually demonstrate fermentation.”