Course 1: Making Yogurt the Scientific Way

Yogurt making is the original microbial biotechnology: a practice older than science or civilization. In this course, we learn to make yogurt.  Along the way we will learn how to culture, feed, and care for bacteria. We will also introduce methods to to count bacteria and understand their growth with basic mathematical models. The techniques that we present could be applied equally in the laboratory or in the kitchen, but how do we know if the product is safe to eat?  We will consider the safety and ethics of genetically modifying the bacteria in our food and in our bodies.

Goals for this Course

  • To demonstrate basic bacterial culture techniques.
  • To introduce math as a tool for synthetic biology.
  • To consider the safety, ethics and human impact of synthetic biology.


Course Curriculum

  • Introduction: Yogurt as Biotechnology

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  • Unit 1: Fun with Fermentation

    • How to Make Yogurt
    • The Fermentation Process in Yogurt
    • Quiz2.1
      Fermentation Quiz
      6 questions
  • Unit 2: The Care and Feeding of Microbes

    • Bacterial Growth Requirements
    • How to Make Tomato-Milk Plates
    • How to Make LB, A Standard Bacterial Growth Medium
    • Quiz3.1
      Media Quiz
      6 questions
  • Unit 3: Let's Get Quantitative

    • Common Units of Concentration in the Lab
    • Calculating Dilutions in the Lab
    • How to Count Bacteria in Yogurt
    • Quiz4.1
      Dilution Quiz
      12 questions
  • Unit 4: Stay Safe Out There


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