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With the Biofuels—Flinn STEM Design Challenge™ Kit, explore ethanol production through the fermentation of carbohydrates by yeast cells. Integrate scientific inquiry and engineering design.

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Biofuels provide an alternative to petroleum-based fuels. Ethanol, a biofuel produced from biomass such as corn, is frequently blended with gasoline to produce a “cleaner” burning fuel. In this lab, students explore ethanol production through the fermentation of carbohydrates by yeast cells. The lab begins with an introductory activity in which students conduct a controlled experiment to investigate the amount of carbon dioxide produced through the fermentation reaction of yeast with two different types of carbohydrates. Students observe the amount of carbon dioxide produced and determine the most productive carbohydrate food source. Then students are then challenged to design and implement a method to collect and quantify the amount of carbon dioxide produced. Integrate scientific inquiry and engineering design and their application to human challenges in our world with this engaging activity. Complete for 30 students working in groups of three.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Engaging in argument from evidence
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS1.B: Chemical Reactions
MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.B: Chemical Reactions
HS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Patterns
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models
Energy and matter

Performance Expectations

MS-PS1-3. Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
MS-PS1-2. Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
HS-PS1-2. Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.