High school beer brewing class draws concern

9:56 AM, Oct 29, 2013   |    comments
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ARVADA - They are too young to possess it, but they are learning the process required to make it.

A biology class at Ralston Valley High School is working on a project entitled "Alcoholic Fermentation," which details the steps required to brew beer.

It has gotten the attention of some parents.

"When I was cooking dinner the other night, my daughter brought me a paper saying look at my next project. It's on alcohol fermentation, and I think I stopped dead in my tracks and said 'it's on what?" Ralston Valley High School parent Adrienne Maerz said.

The project synopsis instructs students to become familiar with the ingredients and equipment needed to brew beer as well as the steps required in brewing. It also asks students to explain the variables that are changed in making other forms of alcohol, such as wine, champagne and hard alcohols like whiskey and vodka.

The project also affords students the opportunity to earn 10 extra credit points by going on a tour of the brewing process at the Coors Brewery. It asks students to include a photo that verifies their presence on the tour to get their extra credit.

The synopsis does include a note in bold letters that reads, "In no way does this assignment promote the use of alcohol, but rather a deeper understanding of anaerobic respiration."

Given the problem of underage drinking Maerz believes the class sends a mixed message.

"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,'" Maerz said.

According to the school, the alcoholic fermentation class has been taught at Ralston Valley High School for the last eight years without any previous complaints.

A statement released by the Jefferson County School District to 9News reads, "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. Meanwhile, any parent who feels this is not an appropriate activity can request an alternative assignment covering the same content. We take seriously our partnership with parents in educating their children and appreciate their involvement in helping the district evaluate teach strategies."

Maerz says they have informed the school their daughter will not be participating in the project as it relates to the brewing of beer. Late Monday afternoon, they were informed their daughter's project would focus on the process necessary to make diesel ethanol.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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