Breathing Yeasties

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In this life science activity (page 8 of the PDF), learners explore the carbon cycle by mixing yeast, sugar and water. Learners observe how different quantities of the mixture produce more or less carbon dioxide, created when micro-organisms in the yeast "eat" (break down) the sugar. The experiment also requires learners to calculate volume, and so can be used as a math activity as well. Although this was created as a post-visit activity for a workshop about sugar and nutrition, it also makes an excellent stand-alone activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Four (4) quart-sized Ziploc bags
  • 4 packets of activated dry yeast
  • sugar
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 cup measuring cup
  • about 6 cups warm water (about 46oC or 115oF)
  • large bowl
  • marking pen (permanent ink)
  • thermometer
  • piece of cardboard (or notebook with a stiff back)
  • ruler
  • pen or pencil


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Protists and Fungi
    • Ecology
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, COSI Columbus, 2009