Making With Microbes

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In this design challenge, learners will use microbes to design and grow a custom biomaterial at home and make something creative with it. This biomaterial is made by the millions of living yeast and bacteria that normally work together to produce kombucha, a fermented tea. But, depending on what you feed them, they can also grow interesting and different pieces of biomaterial for you. Includes step-by-step instructions with microbe care tips, an extensive suggested materials list to use when choosing how you want to grow your biomaterial, and suggested personalization extensions. A Spanish version of the activity is also available. Please note: this is a long activity so a quick start guide is included.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • Note: Refer to activity guide for ingredients and materials that you should NOT use to grow your biomaterial.
  • Microbe Food: sugar sources (white sugar, agave syrup, brown sugar, molasses, or maple syrup)
  • Microbe Food: tea types (black, green, oolong, or white)
  • Growth Containers (Tupperware, plastic tubs, glass jars, bowls, or cups)
  • Growth Container Covers (coffee filter, clean cloth, paper towel, or lid with holes punched in it)
  • Drying Surfaces (plastic wrap, place mat, wax paper, baking mat, or bendy plastic)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Viruses and Bacteria
      • Protists and Fungi
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


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Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Tech Interactive, 2020

Funding Source:

  • SEPA

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