Research Story: A Modern Scientist-Engineer in the World of Fermentation

Research Story: A Modern Scientist-Engineer in the World of Fermentation

fermentation story

Left: Louis Pasteur discovered in the 1800s how to prevent fermented drinks like wine from going bad (image from Right: Dr. Donna Bates is a modern-day researcher who studies how to ferment plant stems, leaves, and wood into biofuels. Both Pasteur and Bates ask similar "why" and "how" science and engineering questions to study fermentation.

"Which came first—the engineer or the scientist? Scientists find out why things happen. Engineers solve problems to make particular things happen." In this story, students learn about the interplay between science and engineering in fermentation research—from the discovery of pasteurization in the 1800s to current efforts to produce efficient biofuels with biotechnology. Research stories give students a window into the work of professional scientists and engineers. This allows students to see how the processes of school science are reflected in the real world while building literacy skills with science-specific content.

Extend the learning by combing this activity with the Boosting Yeast's Appetite for Sugars data dive, Fermentation in a Bag activity, Fermentation Challenge: Making Ethanol from Cellulose activity, and CB2E: Converting Cellulosic Biomass to Ethanol lab.

For more information, read this short introduction to research stories and how to use them in science classes.

Grade Level Middle School and High School (Grades 6-12)
Subjects Biology, Biotechnology, Agriculture, Environmental Science
Resource Type Research Story
Concepts/Skills nature of science and engineering, fermentation, engineering, literacy, genetic engineering
Time Required 20-50 minutes depending on time spent in class discussion.
Prior Knowledge Familiarity with sugars, yeast, and the process of fermentation helpful.
Required Supplies

None. Download materials in activity package.

Download Fermentation Story Activity Package (.zip, 1.8MB)
Includes 2-page reading student worksheet/discussion questions, teacher instructions.