Root Beer Lab: Demonstration of Fermentation!

Grade/Subject: Biology 10 - Cellular RespirationFermentation Lab
Topic: Fermentation
Date: November 3, 2011
Class Length: 50 minutes

In this grade 10 Biology lesson students will partner up and go to a work station that has been set up prior by the teacher. In front of them they will have materials to produce home-made Root Beer. They must demonstrate that they can follow the recipe carefully and later on learn the reason why the ingredients being used help in the fermentation process. This lesson is designed to get the students actively involved and excited about learning fermentation and chemical changes.

SLO’s from program of studies:
  • observe and describe evidence of chemical change in reactions between familiar materials
  • observing and inferring evidence of chemical reactions between familiar household material

Learning Objectives:
  • Students will learn how to follow a recipe to make Root Beer.
  • Students will Examine recipe ingredients and identify those where beneficial microorganisms are involved in the production.
  • Students will Identify uses of bacteria, yeasts, and molds in the food industry.

  • Clean, empty, 2 liter plastic bottles + caps
  • Large Bowl, funnel, mixing spoon
  • Water (preferably spring water)
  • Bakers yeast (the dry kind)
  • Root beer extract
  • Sugar, measuring spoons, and cups

Fermentation is used to make a variety of food products, including the making of beer, wine, bread, cheese, sauerkraut, and baked goods. It is the carbon dioxide produced by the yeasts that give root beer it's "fizz." This fizz is produced in store bought Root Beer by a carbonation machine that forces carbon dioxide into the root beer mixture, without the aid of our little yeast friends. In the next activity you will be producing home-made Root Beer with the help of our yeast friends.
Each group will make 2 bottles of Root Beer which they will compare the taste at the end of the first and second week. They will then compare differences and similarities of each bottle.

1. Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of yeast in ½ cup of very warm water.Let stand for 5 minutes. Being in warm water activates the yeasts, and wakes them up from being dried out. Spring water, incidentally,makes better root beer than tap water.

2. Using the bowl, combine 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of Root beer extract with 1 1/8 cups of sugar in warm water, to dissolve the sugar.

3. Add the two mixtures to the bottle and add warm water to bring the level of the liquid up to two liters. (Be sure to use very warm


4. Fill sterilized bottles within 1 ½ to 2 inches to the top. Close tightly and hold upside down to check for leaks. Make a label out

of plain white paper, and put your names on it. Tape the label to the bottle.

5. Age root beer for 3 or 4 days in a warm, dark place. Then store in a cool, dark place for 2 more days. Refrigeration will stop the

fermentation process and kill the yeast. Total aging of at least one week is recommended. Two weeks will improve the flavor. Be sure to check the bottles every day for tightness, if they get too pressurized,they will explode. Never use glass bottles!

6. Chill root beer and taste. Students may be surprised at how different this root beer is from store bought root beer.
Students need to help put away materials and place their bottles of Root Beer in a warm dark place. All bottles must be marked with groups
names on them. Each bottle will be placed in the same cupboard to make final assessment fair. Students will go back to their desk and we will discuss the lab we just completed.

  • Students will complete a formal lab using Voicethread (which they have used previously).
  • Throughout the lab students will take pictures (using group assigned laptops) of the materials and experimental processes.
  • Prior to completing the lab using Voicethread, students are expected to complete the below lab flow chart by hand (paper copies will be available at the front of the class).
  • Using the hand written flow chart students will compile images and voice recordings into Voicethread.

  • Lab flow chart completed and submitted: 5 pts
  • Voicethread:
    • Minimum of 8 images (2 to be taken each week during fermentation period): 8 pts
    • Clear slow placed voice used in lab report: 2 pts
    • Complete lab report (ask a question, hypothesis, design the experiment, collect data, and conclusions): 10 pts
    • Schedule: Flow chart submitted same day as lab; Voicethread lab to be submitted 15 days after lab experiment to allow fermentation images during 2 week period.

Total: 25 pts