High School’s Beer-Brewing Class Creates Controversy

A homework assignment at a Colorado high school may have students excited to learn about fermenting, but has some parents fuming.

One of Ralston Valley High School’s biology classes is asking their students to learn how to brew beer — and wine, champagne, vodka and other hard alcohols — to learn the process of alcoholic fermentation, and how different processes can create different alcohols.

The teacher reportedly also offered extra credit to students who went on a tour of the Coors Brewery, which is located within the same county as the school — and while the brewery allows guests age 18 and over to tour without an adult, the website itself (in accordance with FTC age verification procedure) won’t allow anyone under the age of 21 to enter.

But the assignment and the extra credit option has angered some parents who say the class could be giving conflicting messages to underage students.

“It just doesn’t make sense for you to say to a student, ‘these are the effects. This is what it can do to your body, your mind, to your life.’ And then say, ‘and in case you decide to not listen to our warning, let’s teach you how to brew it,'” Ralston Valley parent Adrienne Maerz told 9News.

The Jefferson County School District later issued a statement saying they would be evaluating the class, that was obtained by KDVR:

The teaching of fermentation or, anaerobic respiration, is a Colorado standard taught in biology classes. Teachers make choices in designing the lesson plans which help students meet those standards. While we value the efforts our teachers make to inspire learning in our students, we will be reviewing the assignment in question.

As mom blog “The Stir” points out however, getting students excited about biology may not be such a bad thing.

Making beer (and wine, and vodka, and, and, and …) taboo only serves to excite kids. Breaking it down via a scientific process, on the other hand, takes some of the mystique out of it. It’s no longer something they can’t wait to get their hands on. Suddenly it’s just a bunch of sugars creating metabolic waste.

It’s nothing more than a science project — albeit a science project that drew them in and actually let them have a little fun while learning.

In the meantime students who either object to the assignment themselves or whose parents object, will be able to do an alternate, non-alcoholic assignment.

Earlier this month, another underage alcohol science experiment in Colorado made headlines when 11-year-old Michal Bodzianowski announced that he was working on an experiment for astronauts to make beer in space.

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