BBE hosts "Biofuels to Brewing" course for high school teachers

August 02, 2022

The Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering (BBE) hosted a five-day continuing education workshop (July 11-15) with 12 high school teachers from across the Twin Cities joining.

The workshop, ran by professor Ulrike Tschirner with help from high school teacher Stephanie Harris, covered fermentation processes, from biofuels to beer.

Over the five-days, teachers learned about fermentation processes for foods, fuels and plastics. They were shown how to start their own food fermentation at home and encouraged to make  yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, or sauerkraut. The teachers were also provided at-home brewing kits to brew their own beer.

"These courses are so important for teachers because teachers enjoy learning too," said Stephanie Harris. "After these past few years of teaching through the Covid pandemic, teachers have not had many opportunities to work with their peers these past few years as so many trainings and meetings have been online. It was truly a refresher!"

Time was spent in the lab, with several lab activities incorporated into the workshop. All of the lab activities provided hands-on learning opportunities for the teachers. They experimented with glucose fermentation to create ethanol, harvesting bioplastics, and learned about biodiesel.

The workshop was made possible and funded by Professor Shri Ramaswamy’s DOE grant received for his aviation fuel project, with additional funding from the project’s partners, ADM and GEVO.

Beer brewing in a fermenting jar.
Fermenting kombucha with lemons placed in the container.
Fermenting kimchi made by one of the teachers attending the course.