As part of an effort to integrate biology and biohacking into our makerspace offerings, we’ve been working on a fermentation science initiative, which will hopefully lead to workshops, activities, courses, and certificates. Fermentation science sits at the intersection of a number of disciplines, including Biology, Chemistry, and Nutrition, and with the addition of Internet of Things technologies for monitoring and automation, dovetails nicely with our ongoing aquaponics and smart garden efforts.
We’ve started experimenting with kombucha, with the goal of exploring the kombucha SCOBY as a renewable and novel makerspace material, inspired by Scihouse’s SCOBY leather experiments.
We’ve been fostering some kombucha SCOBYs…
and eventually grew one out in a small rectangular vessel. We knocked together an acrylic drying rack on the laser cutter, and set the SCOBY to dry.
It’s a little rough, but it is after all a version 1 prototype.
We’re planning to develop an incubation box so that we can manipulate temperature variables, and have talked about all kinds of basic science sorts of experiments to see how far we can take the material. We’re also developing workshops around lactic acid fermentation, and have created some nice krauts and ferments over the past month, including this red cabbage. Lots of opportunities to science this up too, and to monitor, tweak, and manipulate variables.
Our eventual goal is to stand up a brewing program that should integrate nicely with the college’s viticulture efforts. We’ve got some work to do to get that up on wheels, but we’re nibbling around the edges by, for instance, growing hops. We repurposed some scaffolding – most recently the art gallery for our Making Social Change laser cut stencil project – as a hops yard.
Despite some ups and downs with the automatic watering, one of the plants is flowering! Pro tip: raw hops cones are incredibly bitter.
Stay tuned for Innovation Center Makerspace MicroTechno Brew.