Fermentation in a Bag

Fermentation in a Bag

fermentation in a bag outreach

This is one of our most popular and adaptable activities for use in outreach events and classrooms.  It is a basic experiment that allows students to observe the process of fermentation and the challenge of producing ethanol from cellulosic sources. Students combine yeast and warm water with a feedstock in a “snack” size resealable zipper bag and observe as the yeast “eats” the feedstock such as sugar, cornmeal, or sawdust, and produces carbon dioxide and ethanol. Younger students can observe fermentation in a single bag, while older students can create multiple set-ups to compare how yeast reacts with different feedstocks.

Grade Level Elementary through High School (K-12)
Subjects Biology, Agriculture, Environmental Science
Resource Type Stand-Alone Activity, Investigation
Concepts/Skills fermentation, respiration, renewable energy, biofuels, biomolecules, data analysis, scientific argumentation
Time Required 30-60 minutes prep time, depending on event/group size. 10 minute set-up, observe for 15 minutes or up to 1.5 hours.
Prior Knowledge None
Required Supplies Warm water, Dry Active Yeast, Yeast feedstocks (i.e. Sugar, Cornmeal, Corn Stover Powder, Sawdust, and/or other options of your choice), Small Graduated Cylinders (100mL), Measuring Spoons, Resealable zipper bags (“snack” size)
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Fermentation In A Bag Package (.zip, 5.1MB)
Includes Fermentation In A Bag Activity and Supplementary Materials.