5 Creative Ways to Teach Fermentation That Make It Easier to Understand

Anjaney Kothari

Fermentation is a key process in countless industries, from cheesemaking to winemaking, from bio-ethanol production to bioplastic production. Those applying this method need to modulate several growth parameters to maximize the yield of the reaction. A lot of experimentation, analysis, and optimization goes into this process.  

Given the sheer importance of fermentation in the industry and its many complexities, educators need creative ways to teach it. Here, we list five ways to teach fermentation that will make it easier to understand and implement for your students.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

No matter what the level of experience, those seeking to learn fermentation will significantly benefit from interactive teaching and training. Interactive models can help students visualize the underlying reactions and play around with growth parameters in a ‘no consequences’ environment.

In Labster’s fermentation simulation, students virtually conduct batch fermentation of the yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Their task in this virtual lab is to optimize the fermentation conditions to produce as much bio-ethanol as possible. To this end, our simulation teaches the students how to analyze fermentation growth curves and identify the optimal growth parameters.

Fermentation station in a virtual lab.

2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

Games and activities can connect students with a topic in a way that few other methods can. They create a dynamic learning environment, with peers, competitiveness, communication and collaboration all serving as effective teachers. So, make fermentation fun with games and activities so that Jack is no longer a dull boy!

For example, you can provide the students with different growth curves and ask them to identify the most optimal one. They can perform this activity either individually or in groups. You can also plan a field trip to a cheese or wine factory. Here, the students can see, first-hand, the role of the fermentation process while also appreciating its principles.

3. Infuse Technology into Lessons

Technology can invigorate our teaching methods that might otherwise seem a little bland to some students. Teaching a resource- and time-intensive method like fermentation can benefit from technologies like simulation and virtual reality. Such technologies make the topic exciting and allow for realistic experiences without unnecessary expenditure of time and resources.

In Labster’s fermentation simulation, the realistic lab experience that students gain from our simulation thoroughly prepares them for actual lab experiments and industry-level operations. The students get to try out different values for bio-ethanol production parameters like temperature, pH, gaseous environment, and culture agitation. They can then immediately visualize how modifying each of these variables would affect the fermentation yield.

Growth conditions and growth curve for fermentation in a virtual lab.
Discover Labster's Fermentation virtual lab today!

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

Given the numerous industries that depend on fermentation to produce foods, beverages, and fuels, studying it offers several career opportunities. Once your students realize the many opportunities they can get from learning about fermentation, their interest and attention will rise.

Talk to your students about how biochemical engineers use the principles of fermentation to identify the best reaction parameters. Discuss how bioengineers design bioreactors that can perform large-scale fermentation reactions in a near-automated fashion. Inform them how microbiologists who are genetically modifying bacteria to maximize enzyme activity need to know the workings of fermentation.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

The most memorable and effective lessons are often those that are grounded in reality. If you connect fermentation to its many real-world applications, your students will learn quickly and retain the information longer.

Talk to your students about the importance of fermentation in bio-ethanol production. Tell them how bio-ethanol has the potential to replace non-renewable sources of energy. Teach them how bioplastic production by using fermentation can provide environmentally friendlier alternatives to current methods of plastic production.

Final thoughts

Fermentation is an important topic of study, for high school and university students as well as industry professionals. We hope we helped you educators come up with some new methods to add to your repertoire to teach this topic to all learners irrespective of their age or experience. The five creative teaching methods we have discussed here can help you achieve this and make learning a fun and memorable experience for all your students.

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