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A Day in the Life: Exploring Biomanufacturing Careers

Lesson 2 - Upstream Biomanufacturing


Students will complete a series of activities designed to introduce them to the science of Biomanufacturing.

  • Activity 1: Review biomanufacturing using the Power Point provided. A note taking guide is provided.
  • Activity 2: Pre-lab activity “Producing a Quality Product.” Students will learn the components of batch records that are used in biomanufacturing by completing the lab exercise which requires following A Standard Operating Procedure to make Kool-Aid.
  • Activity 3: Lab activity “Operate and Monitor a Mini Bioreactor.” Students will create a bench-scale bioreactor and execute a form of bioprocessing that has been around for centuries: microbial fermentation of yeast. Fermentation will be monitored by measuring carbon dioxide production using a water displacement set up. A Student Batch Record is provided for setting up and monitoring the bioreactor. The Batch Record is designed to be completed by each student group.

Background Information

Biomanufacturing or bioprocessing is when microorganisms, living cells or their components are used to produce a desired end product. For example, Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care that has a facility in Clayton, North Carolina, produces insulin using a genetically modified strain of yeast. Biomanufacturing facilities use bioreactors to grow the microbes that produce the desired product. Bioreactors are usually made of stainless steel and vary greatly in size (few liters to thousands). Bioreactors are typically cylindrical shape and their design is very complex in order to create the perfect conditions for growing microorganisms. The bioreactors are specifically engineered to monitor and control the temperature, pH and oxygen. Growth of cells in bioreactors is considered to be an “Upstream Process” in biomanufacturing. In this experiment students will create a bench-scale bioreactor and execute a form of bioprocessing that has been around for centuries: microbial fermentation of yeast. The level of fermentation will be monitored through carbon dioxide output using a water displacement set up.

Learning Objectives

North Carolina Standard Course of Study (NCSCOS):

Competencies and Objectives from Exploring Biotechnology

  • EB 3.01 Analyze the use of equipment and materials and apply rules for safety in the laboratory.
  • EB07.01 Discuss industrial and environmental biotechnology.
  • EB07.02 Analyze components of industrial biotechnology.
  • EB10.01 Describe careers in Biotechnology
  • EB10.02 Discuss bioinformatics and biomanufacturing careers.

Competencies and Objectives from 8th Grade Science

  • 1.04 Analyze variables in scientific investigations
  • 1.05 Analyze evidence to: Explain observations. Make inferences and predictions. Develop the relationship between evidence and explanation.
  • 1.06 Use mathematics to gather, organize, and present quantitative data resulting from scientific investigations: Measurement, Analysis of data, Graphing
  • 7.05 Investigate aspects of biotechnology (including careers, economic benefits to NC)

Classroom Time Required

This lesson will take three to four, forty five minute class periods.

Materials needed

Each activity contains a chart of the materials that are needed for that activity.


Each activity lists any pre-activities or demonstrations that should be conducted.


The teacher may wish to load the Power Point presentation on a website or local school server and have the students navigate the lesson independently for homework in order to save class time.

The teacher may want to add narration to the Power Point if students are working independently in order to better assist students with reading disabilities.

If lab equipment and supplies are limited, the teacher may wish to conduct the experiments as a classroom demonstration.

File Links for support material

Activity 2-1: Class Review: Biomanufacturing Power Point
Class Review: Biomanufacturing Cornell Notes
Activity 2-2: Pre Lab: Producing a Quality Product Standard Operating Procedure
Pre Lab: Producing a Quality Product Student Batch Record
Activity 2-3: Lab: Operate and Monitor a Mini Bioreactor Standard Operating Procedure
Lab: Operate and Monitor a Mini Bioreactor Student Batch Record
Lab: Yeast Cell Growth Spreadsheet (Excel file) for Data Analysis