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5 Ways to Make Homogenization More Approachable for Students

Usama Attiq
Higher Education
Teaching with Labster

Introduction: Homogenization

A mixture is a combination of different elements. The mixture is different from the compounds because the substances are not chemically involved in producing new things. There are two main kinds of mixture; homogeneous mixture and heterogeneous mixture. A homogenous mixture is a type of mixture that has the same composition throughout the mixture. A heterogeneous mixture is a mixture in which the composition changes.

On the basis of the size of the particle, the mixture can be classified into solutions, colloids, and suspensions. A solution is a form of homogenous mixture that consists of small particles. The size of the particles is too small that they cannot be filtered out of the mixture. A colloid is also a homogenous mixture that consists of medium size particles. You can see the particles but cannot separate the particles from the mixture. A suspension is a form of a heterogenous mixture that has larger particles. The particles are larger, so you can easily filter out the particles from the variety.  

Homogenization is a process that reduces the particles of substances like the size of fat globules to very small particles. During milk homogenization, the milk is forced to come through small openings that help to break the fat globules into tiny particles. Homogenized milk is an example of a colloid mixture. The particles in homogenized milk can be large enough to see. This is the reason the milk has white color instead of colorless. However, the size of the particles is not large enough to separate from the mixture.

There are several aspects of homogenization that may be confusing for students. At Labster, we compiled all the complexities that make homogenization a tough topic to understand. Then, we explain five ways that make this topic more interesting for students. At the end of the topic, we will convince you why a virtual lab simulation is important to teach the students about homogenization.

Homogenization process 1

Figure: An image showing size of milk particles in unhomogenized and stage 1 and stage 2 of homogenization from Labster theory. 

Why homogenization can be tricky to learn

Three main reasons make homogenization a difficult topic for students to understand.

1. Different types of homogenization

The homogenization process consists of several types such as mechanical, ultrasonic, and pressure homogenization. All the types have followed different mechanisms and different working. Students may get confused when they learn about the kind of homogenization process. They need to differentiate between the types, applications, and working mechanisms that make this topic hard for some students to understand.

2. It’s complicated

Some students find it hard to learn about the homogenization process. In this topic, they need to learn about the homogenizer device. The structure and steps of homogenizer may be complicated for them to understand. Additionally, there are different pressure values used for the homogenization of different products. So, remembering all the values of pressure can be difficult for students, even for diligent ones.

3. You need to learn different functions of several homogenized products

In the topic of homogenization, you have to learn about several basic terms. Each term has its own examples. Also, you need to remember the functions of each product. For instance, if you learn about homogenized milk, you should know the basic functions of homogenization in milk. The functions can be to enhance the stability of milk, increase shelf life, improve taste and texture, and reduce the size of fat particles. In the same way, it is important to learn about the functions of homogenization in other products. All these reasons make the homogenization process a complicated topic to learn.

5 ways to make homogenization a more approachable topic to understand

As we know the reasons that students experience during their learning about homogenization, there are five ways that make this topic simpler for students to understand. These methods will help the teachers to convey the topic to the students appropriately.

1. Talk about the people behind the science

August Gaulin

August Gaulin invented the homogenization technique in 1899. He used a three pistons machine, with filtration tubes for the homogenization of milk. Gaulin’s design of homogenizer remains the easier and simpler device for the emulsion of liquids. He treated milk in a homogenizer mixture to create homogenized milk. The Gaulin homogenizer consists of two parts: a piston pump and the homogenizing valve. The piston pump has three or five pistons that help to move the milk forward during the sucking. Then, the pressure is exerted by the pistons to move the milk from the homogenization valve. In 1904, he was granted a US patent.

2. Basic knowledge of homogenization and the advantages of this process

Homogenization is a process that transforms an unstable emulsion into a stable emulsion. It helps to reduce the size of the particles to make a uniform phase. A homogenizer is a device that is used in this process to homogenize a liquid like milk. Generally, homogenization is known as 2 step homogenization because there are two steps involved in it. High pressure is applied to the milk to reduce the size of particles and this emulsion passes through the valves. The valves help not only to reduce the size of the particles but also enhance the surface area of the substance. 

Homogenization process 2

Figure: An image of two step homogenization process from Labster theory. 

Homogenization is an effective process because it can produce a high-quality process by using lower pressure. Homogenized milk has many advantages.  

  • Homogenized milk has small size fat particles that can make milk stay fresh for a longer period as compared with normal milk.

  • Most people prefer to purchase white milk rather than cream milk. The homogenization process can help to improve the color of the milk.

  • Homogenized milk has a creamy taste because of the presence of small-size fat droplets.  So, it is liked by many consumers.

  • When consumers use non-homogenized milk, it may upset their stomachs. In homogenization, the size of the fat droplet decreases in the milk. Therefore, homogenized milk can easily be digested by the stomach.

  • Homogenized milk is an excellent product for cooking tea and other drinks. So, many people prefer using homogenized milk for cooking purposes. It is safe to use because it contains all the healthy nutrients.

3. Relate to the real world

Students should know the applications of the homogenization process that can enhance their interest in this topic. When they learn real-world examples, it can help them to understand the process of homogenization.

  1. Use in the dairy industry: Homogenization is mainly used in the processing of food and beverages. Generally, it plays an important role in the dairy industry. It helps to avoid the separation of layers of cream that enhances the shelf life of the milk. In homogenization, pressure is applied instead of heat which can preserve the flavor and nutrient content of the products.

  2. Use in the development of pharmaceutical drugs: The homogenization process is very effective to reduce the particles of the drugs and mix them properly. Additionally, it is the best alternative to lysing agents in the medical field. For instance, it is effective for the processing of vaccines and the determination of active ingredients in them.

  3. Another application of homogenization is nail paints: The homogenization process is beneficial because it provides a high-intensity color. That’s why this process is used in the manufacturing of nail paints.

homogenization virtual lab

Figure: An image of different food and beverage products from the Labster’s virtual laboratory of homogenization

4. Seeing is believing

Using virtual diagrams to explain the homogenization process enhances the interest of students. When students see a color diagram, it can save the structures in their memories. The diverse colors make the topic easier for students to understand. Color diagrams are the easier way to convert textbook information into visual representation to make it simpler for learners. The image presented below shows the structure of a homogenizer device. The yellow color drops show the fat globules. The size of fat globules is reduced when passing through the valve of a homogenizer. Therefore, it is an effective way to explain the structure of the homogenizer to the students. 

homogenization virtual lab 2

Figure: An image of homogenizer device from the Labster virtual laboratory of homogenization

5. Use of virtual lab simulation

A virtual lab simulation is an effective way to explain difficult topics like homogenization. It helps the teachers to convey the topic to students in an easier way. At Labster, we provide an advanced 3D simulation that has gamification elements such as storytelling and a scoring system.

Labster homogenization simulation explains the types of mixture present in the food, the role of emulsifiers, the molecular structure of the milk, and the steps of homogenization. With the help of this simulation, students will better understand the process of homogenization.

Check outLabster simulation of homogenization here, or get in touch to find out how you can start using virtual lab simulations with your students.

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