Introduction  

Ever wanted to make your own paper or plastic? Or create leather that doesn’t use animals? Why not try collaborating with microbes —  tiny microscopic organisms —  to design and grow a custom biomaterial at home! 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 your collaborators, they can also grow interesting and different pieces of biomaterial for you!  

Design Challenge

Grow your own unique piece of biomaterial and make something creative with it!

Making with Microbes

Subject

Biology, Biodesign

Ages

8+

Time

Mix: 30-45 min  |  Grow: 7+ days

Dry: 1-2 days  |  Create: 30 min

Key Concepts

Living systems, biomaterials, microbes, fermentation

This activity was made possible by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), Grant Number R25 GM129220, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Making with Microbes: Costume Edition

Grow your own costume with Making with Microbes! Our BioTinkering activity helps you harness the power of biology by growing leather from tea. You can experiment with color and texture. Can you make a pirate eye patch or mask worthy of Zorro? Make feathers, leaves or your own book of magic spells!

Want a challenge?

JUMP IN!

Research how tea is grown and cultivated.

Want a challenge?

REWARDING & FLEXIBLE

Grow your own biomaterial with tea and sugar.

Want a challenge?

DESIGN CHALLENGES AHEAD!

Can you change the color of your growing biomaterial with dyes?

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