Today we went to the University town of Bielefeld. The students were invited to a hands-on Chemistry demonstration at the Teutolab, a university program to expose children to chemistry at a younger age. The students analyzed a world map of lactose intolerance. We learned that Germans have a low population of lactose intolerant people because historically they domesticated animals and consumed their milk. The enzyme that is present in infants so that they can digest their mothers’ milk is still present in adults populations who have adapted to drink milk and eat dairy products throughout their lives. Since dairy production is a large part of the German economy, the students’ goal today was too create a “pearl” that can break the lactose bonds and enable lactose intolerant people to enjoy milk. The students had a great time using the lab equipment to create “pearls” out of Alginate and Calcium Chloride. Some “pearls” included an enzyme to break down the glucose (some did not because they were the control). The students then tested their concoction in the milk and checked to see if it worked by measuring the glucose in the milk. It was a success!
After having lunch at the University cafeteria, we took a tram downtown. We walked through the historic area and enjoyed looking into the beautiful shop windows. Then we walked up to Sparrenburg Castle; the most famous landmark of Bielefeld. The castle was 60 meters high and we could see the Teutoburg Forest. Our students explored a well, dungeon, and overlook. As we walked around the grounds we imagined Medieval life and the soldiers who defended the castle from enemy conquests.
This weekend, our students get to experience daily life with their German families!