Which Food Does Yeast Like Best?

This activity turns a classic student observation activity of yeast generation of gas into a guided inquiry lab. Rather than give the students one sugar, we give them a range of foods to taste for developing hypotheses based upon their analyses of the foods. The students then design the experiment with appropriate controls and carry it out using gas generation in a closed system with balloon to measure yeast fermentation.

Intended Audience
Grades K-4

Learning Objectives
At completion of this activity, the learner will be able to:
1. Describe the scientific method and how it is utilized to design experiments.
2. Describe how humans use microorganisms in their daily lives.
3. Utilize the scientific method to determine which foods cause yeast to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) more effectively.

Necessary Student Background
Students should be understand three of the states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. Students should be familiar with the scientific method. They should know what an experiment is and what results are. Students should be aware of the differences between living and nonliving things.

Scientific method, critical thinking, inquiry based activity, fermentation, growth, yeast, sugar, metabolism

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Which Food Does Yeast Like Best?

Submit an Activity - Teacher and Student Handouts


The teacher handout should provide information helpful to teachers including, but not limited to, required prior knowledge, background information, materials, methods, delivery, safety, assessment, and supplementary materials.

(These instructions should not be handed out to students. Please note that some sections are optional).  

A. Microbial Discovery Activity Title

B. Student Prior Knowledge   
Indicate prerequisite knowledge and skills that students should have before participating in this activity. 

C. Teacher Background Information 
Provide any historically relevant information and a biological backdrop to the relevance of this experiment.  

D. Class Time
· Describe the approximate time required to complete the activity.
· Describe amount of hands-on time and any waiting periods. · Indicate if the activity requires follow-up in one or more subsequent periods. 

E. Teacher Preparation Time 
· Provide a list of materials that need to be produced in advance. 
· Describe if there are any incubation or refrigeration steps prior to the student's participation in the activity. 

F. Materials, Equipment  
· Provide a clear and complete list (and amounts of) materials needed, indicating whether they are readily available, or require special ordering.
· Include recipes for media and reagents that are uncommon or not readily available from a media supply company. 
· Mention the stability of materials, and any special handling conditions. 
· List and briefly describe any equipment needed to conduct the activity. 
· Include contact information for vendors and other suppliers and approximate cost.
· Describe how much material is needed for each student/group. 

G. Methods  
· Provide a step-by-step description of the activity.
· Consider the inclusion of steps that promote analyzing, synthesizing, hypothesizing, and decision-making.
· Incorporate any explanations to help the instructor make the activity work smoothly. 
· Consider the inclusion of flowcharts or pictures.
· Include any hints, tricks, or pitfalls to avoid. Write suggestions for acquiring hard-to-get materials or special items. 
· Try to include those things that you do automatically, which someone else may not know, but that contribute to the success of the activity.  

H. Delivery 
Include suggestions for the instructional delivery. For example discussion or inquiry-based investigation, active questioning (individual or groups), using a quiz, etc. 

I. Technology Utilization 
Include information about videos, computers, and calculators, use of ASM's MicrobeLibrary animations or podcasts that can enhance the activity. 

J. Microorganisms 
· List the microorganism(s) if needed for the activity, and provide any special instructions for their acquisition, care, and growth. 
· Biological agents should not exceed the CDC's Biosafety Standards – Level 1 microorganisms. Some examples include B. subtilis, E. coli K12, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. For more information review the article "Safe Microorganisms for Education."   While this article has not been revised for nearly a decade, it would be expected that most revisions  would be additions to the list.  Of course, some nomenclature has evolved as, for example, so many of the "streptococci" are now being called "micrococci." 

K. Safety Issues (if applicable) 
Address all safety issues teachers and students need to know when attempting this activity.  

L. Assessment and Evaluation of Activity 
· Provide assessment methods used to determine if students have achieved the stated learning objectives and the methods you use to assign grades accordingly.  
· If the activity includes specific questions for students to answer, include an answer key.  Investigative/open-ended questions should have some type of response.  The response could include a list of possible answers with arguments/evidence to support the selected answer.  For example, if someone were to respond to an open-ended question with a statement (let’s say there is no correct answer), please include the “evidence” that leads to respond with the statement.  Open-ended questions should minimally provide some of the possible responses.  Ask oneself… what is the evidence that supports the response? 

M. Supplementary Materials 
· Possible Modifications (optional). Include ways in which your activity can be modified or extended to broaden its appeal for others facing alternate curriculum goals.
· References (optional). List references that would be especially suitable as background for teachers or supplemental material for students.
· Appendices and Answer Keys (if applicable). Append any useful or needed information that does not easily fit into the provided categories. Also include answer keys.


The Student Handout should include information helpful to students such as vocabulary, materials checklist, procedures, results, safety measures, and follow-up questions.

A. Microbial Discovery Activity Title  

B. IntroductionInclude a brief overview of the exercise (abstract). 

C. Student Background Knowledge
Indicate how the student should prepare for this activity, such as reading portions of a book chapter, checking a website, etc. 

D. Vocabulary
Include a list of new terms the student will encounter and their definitions. 

E. Safety Considerations
List any specific safety concerns related to this activity.  

F. Materials Checklist
Have a checklist of the materials the student must acquire before beginning the experiment.  

G. Procedure
Include a step-by-step protocol in the form of a handout that you will give your students. Include figures or images if it clarifies the process. 

H. Results
Include a worksheet, tables, graphs, or space for depicting their observations, if applicable. 

I. Follow-up Questions/Homework

These questions may be focused directly upon their results or they may be designed to inquire about their conceptual understanding of the topic. They may also be questions that require further investigation, either in the classroom, or from the literature.

What Microbe Are You?

What Microbe Are You? at NABT 2013

"What Microbe Are You?" was prominently featured at the ASM booth at NABT 2013. Visitors took the "What Microbe Are You?" quiz at the booth, and once they figured out their "microbe personality" they were given a cooresponding trading card with a picture of their matching microbe and its characteristics.



To download the trading cards, click here.

This online “personality quiz” helps young learners understand the unconventional concept that most micro-organisms are beneficial; only a fraction are harmful. This activity matches the quiz-taker with the microbe that most closely reflects his or her personality. At the end of the quiz, students are assigned to their microbial matches, and the microbes are given fun code names to circumvent the challenge of pronouncing the microbes' scientific names. Teachers can include this activity as a fun way to begin or end a unit on life sciences.

Intended Audience
Grades K-8

Learning Objectives
At the completion of this activity, each learner will be able to:
1. Appreciate the vast abundance and diversity of marine microbes.
2. Understand that most microbes are not harmful.

Necessary Student Background
This activity requires that students be comfortable using a computer and navigating through websites.

Diversity, identification, marine bacteria, microbiology

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What Microbe Are You? (11 pages)

upplemental Materials
What Microbe are You? trading cards (best if printed on Avery 5392 name badge inserts -- 3 in x 2 in)

Submit an Activity

Guidelines for Submitting an Activity
The Curriculum Library for K-12 education publishes peer-reviewed resources that convey important scientific concepts from the microbial world, such as microbial processes, methods used to study microorganisms and other general science topics. The activities are student-centered, problem-based, hands-on, and foster collaborative and cooperative behavior. Many are multidisciplinary and facilitate the link of biology with other sciences. All activities include both Teacher and Student Handouts.

Exercises must be field tested and aligned with the National Science Education Science Content Standards, Whenever needed, biological agents should not exceed the CDC's Biosafety Standards – Level 1  microorganisms. A good source of information is the article Safe Microorganisms for Education posted at http://www.science-projects.com/safemicrobes.htm.  Materials must be copyright-free and containing appropriate credits and references.  Be sure to include all pertinent information. 

We encourage you to enhance your activity with animations, images, or videos from the MicrobeLibrary visual collection (http://www.microbelibrary.org/ href=http://www.microbelibrary.org/">http://www.microbelibrary.org/). This free resource has peer-reviewed items that can enhance a classroom exercise. If you incorporate any of these items, please provide credit for the authors.

All activities submitted for review should follow the sections outlined below.


A. Title
Select a title that clearly defines the content of the activity.

B. Author(s)

Provide name, affiliation, city, state, and e-mail address(es) for each author. Please acknowledge any other contributors.

C. Intended Audience

Select one or more audience(s) that identifies the appropriate student group:
K-4 _____  5-8 _____9-12 _____ 

D. Activity Characteristics for (check all that apply):
Classroom setting _____Requires special equipment  _____Uses hands-on manipulatives  _____Requires mathematical skills  _____Can be performed individually  _____Requires group work  _____Requires more than one class period (45 minutes)  _____Appropriate for students with special needs _____ 


A. Description: Include one sentence to describe the submission. 

B. Abstract/Summary
Provide a concise summary of the activity in approximately 50-100 words.

C. Core Themes Addressed

Select the core theme(s) in microbiology that closely match the activity: Microbial Cell Biology _____Microbial Genetics     _____Microorganisms and Humans _____Microorganisms and the Environment _____ Microbial Evolution and Diversity _____ Other (please specifiy) _______________________________

D. Interdisciplinary Themes Addressed
Please provide a description of additional topics that your activity includes. Please explain what concepts this activity introduces or utilizes in any/all of these topics:

Humanities (History, Art, Music, English, Writing)
Social Sciences (Economics, Psychology, Political Science)
Computer Science
Earth Science
Environmental Science

E. Keywords List
3-4 keywords which identify scientific concepts and pedagogical methods in the activity. These words should be appropriate for searching purposes.  Do not duplicate words included in the title.   MicrobeLibrary Keyword List

F. Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Provide a list of clearly stated learning outcomes.  "At completion of this activity, learner will…." 

G. National Science Education Standards Addressed

Include the NSES to be addressed, and state how the activity addresses the standard. In this description, please state the concepts that are discussed in this activity. Please be sure to stress any interdisciplinary connections this activity has to concepts outside the life sciences. 

Teacher and Student Handouts

The teacher handout should provide information helpful to teachers including, but not limited to, required prior knowledge, background information, materials, methods, delivery, safety, assessment, and supplementary materials. Should this activity include additional interdisplinary concepts, the teacher handout should also include suggestions and additional plans on how to use this material outside of the life sciences. 

The Student Handout should include information helpful to students such as vocabulary, materials checklist, procedures, results, safety measures, and follow-up questions.  The handout should also introduce any additional interdisciplinary concepts and follow-up questions. 


If you are interested in submitting an activity for publication, please send your submission electronically to Education@asmusa.org as a MS Word document, or rich text format. Use Verdana, Arial, or Times New Roman font size 12. Your submission will be reviewed by a group of microbiologists and educators, and you should expect to be contacted within 6-8 weeks.  


Currently there are no deadlines for submissions. Materials are received on a continuous basis.


All submitted items are peer-reviewed by a group of microbiologists and school teachers, and selected for scientific and educational content, pedagogical (or active learning) processes, clarity and completeness of instruction materials and assessment plans, and alignment to the stated guidelines. Reviewers consider: 

Content ·  Does the title express the content of the activity?  ·  Does the abstract effectively summarize the activity? ·  Does the activity include teaching/learning objectives?·  Does the activity address one or more of the National Science Education Standards?  ·  Are appropriate safety requirements identified?  ·  Is the level of the activity appropriate for K-12 students?  ·  Are appropriate keywords provided to describe the activity? ·  Does the core theme appropriately reflect content?  Does the core include connections to interdisciplinary themes (if applicable)? 

·  Does the activity actively involve students in learning concepts, investigative techniques, or skills development?
·  Is the activity innovative? 
·  Does it involve collaboration or group work, students in higher level thinking skills or communication or mathematical skills (if applicable)? 
·  Can this activity be utilized across several disciplines?  

·  Does the time required for the activity appear reasonable? 
·  Is the materials list clear and complete? 
·  Are materials readily available or are sources provided? 
·  Are recipes and storage for media and reagents provided, if applicable? 
·  Are instructions and procedures for students clear and complete? 
·  Are instructions and procedures for teachers clear and complete? 
·  Are prerequisites for knowledge and skills clearly stated? 
·  Are adequate support materials provided? 
·  Are all safety issues addressed?  

·  Can the presentation of the activity lead students to achieve the stated learning objectives? 
·  Are assessment methods described to determine whether students have achieved the stated learning objectives? 
·  Has the activity been field tested?
·  Does completion of the activity result in a higher degree of comprehension or skill level as stated in the learning objectives?
·  Are answer keys included for review or testing questions?



Susan M. Deines, MS., MT (ASCP)
Colorado State University

Ft. Collins, CO

Ruth A. Gyure, PhD.
Western CT State University
Danbury, CT  

Michael J. Hanophy PhD.
St. Joseph's College
Brooklyn, NY

V. Harbour, PhD., M.P.H.

College of Southern Nevada (CCSN) Cheyenne Campus

Las Vegas, NV


Phoebe Lostroh, PhD.
Colorado College
Rocky Mountain West, CO

Kristin F. Picardo, PhD.
St. John Fisher College
Rochester, NY

David R. Wessner, PhD.  
Davidson College

Davidson, NC


Individuals submitting activities must attest that they hold/own the copyright and that the materials are original.  ASM requires prospective authors to grant ASM the nonexclusive world rights and license to reproduce, publish or distribute materials on ASM sponsored websites.  The author(s) retains copyright so that he/she may republish or otherwise use these materials. ASM agrees to give authors appropriate credit in all ASM reproductions, copies, and publications of the materials. ASM reserves the right to edit resources to conform to the ASM style of writing.   SUPPORT FOR K-12 TEACHERS Authors must be willing to be contacted electronically by K-12 teachers if clarification is needed for a particular exercise.

What Makes Flatulence

What Makes Flatulence

In this exercise, students use a controlled environment to demonstrate the build up of gases in the large intestine. Through their observations, they will better understand the mechanisms that create flatulence (passing gas) and how microorganisms can be beneficial to overall health.  

Intended Audience


5-8 X

Learning Objectives

By completing this activity, the student will be able to:

  1. Investigate the factors that lead to the release of gas from our large intestines.
  2. Recreate these factors within a scientific setting.
  3. Hypothesize how gas is made in the large intestine based on observations of their experiments.
  4. Articulate why this process is important for digestion and overall health.
Necessary Student Background

Students may not have heard of the word “flatulence” before, but they most likely have had some experience with it. Flatulence is the word scientists use to refer to the gas that builds up in your lower intestines and is expelled through the anus. You may want to give students a chance to be silly to get over their initial embarrassment about the content. It may even help to have them share the words they use at home for “passing gas” and remind them that for the remainder of the class everyone will be expected to utilize the words that scientists use. The build up of gas comes from two main sources 1) air swallowed while eating and/or drinking and 2) by the breakdown of carbohydrates in the intestines. This lesson will deal with the second source of gas that leads to flatulence.


Digestion, intestines, bacteria, chyme, flatulence, carbohydrates

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What Makes Flatulence (15 pages)