Teaching Students About Fermentation

Fermentation is a process that greatly contributes to our daily lives, from producing our favorite beverages like beer and wine to providing us with essential foods like bread and cheese. Therefore, it is important for students to understand the principles behind fermentation, which can be incorporated in various curricula, not just science.

What is Fermentation?

Fermentation is a process that involves the conversion of sugars into alcohol, acids, or gases through the action of microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. The most common microorganisms responsible for fermentation are yeasts and bacteria.

Types of Fermentation

There are two types of fermentation, alcoholic and lactic acid fermentation. Alcoholic fermentation produces alcohol and CO2, while lactic acid fermentation produces lactic acid. The fermentation process is used in the production of certain foods and beverages such as bread, beer, wine, yogurt, cheese, and pickles.

Teaching About Fermentation In The Classroom

The fermentation process can be integrated into various curricula. In science, fermentation can be part of a lesson on microorganisms, microbial growth, and respiration. In home economics, fermentation can be discussed in relation to food preservation. In history, fermentation can be examined in the context of the role it played in the production of alcoholic beverages historically.

To get students interested in the subject of fermentation, you can start with a lesson on the history of fermentation. This includes the earliest recorded use of fermentation in ancient cultures, like the Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks. The lesson can then delve further into the science behind fermentation, including the types of microorganisms that are involved, and the end products of fermentation.

You can also emphasize the importance of fermentation in the production of certain food products, including bread, yogurt, cheese, and wine. Students can learn how these products are made and the role that fermentation plays in their production. This can be done in a laboratory setting where students observe and record the fermentation process on a small scale.

A lesson on fermentation can also involve a discussion on the environmental impact of fermentation on climate change. The greenhouse gas emissions produced during the fermentation process can contribute to global warming, and this information can lead to a discussion on the potential for research on more sustainable methods of fermentation.


Teaching students about  fermentation allows them to understand how this process brings their everyday favorite foods and beverages to their table. The fermentation process can be incorporated into various subjects, and the potential for students to explore this topic is limitless. Fermentation can also provide students with an awareness of how they can take an active role in reducing their carbon footprint by evaluating the carbon footprint of the products they consume.

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