Sunday, February 26, 2012

Scientific Literacy and the teaching of science

I have been indulging in my favorite airplane activity: catching up with recent issues of the journal Science. Last year the journal started a series of essays on inquiry based instruction. I learned lab science the old fashioned way - the way it is still taught - the lab book instructed you what to do and how to do it. You did it until getting the prescribed answer and then wrote the lab report. That IS what science is about, right?  The 'right' answer?
So in the first of this year's essays, a group of 5-year-olds were given a box containing a varied mix of seeds, nuts, pebbles and shells and spent weeks investigating "what is a seed"?  Open ended. No right answer. Fun.

The article opened with the assertion that 28 percent of US adults are scientifically illiterate. Ya think?  And that includes some presidential candidates. Huh.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chocolate at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science

Saturday I collected on my Christmas present - a seminar on chocolate!  We drove up Friday night, so we easily arrived by 9 a.m. for registration.  Chef Lionel Clement built a chocolate sculpture from pre-cast pieces.   He also answered questions while he worked - I don't know how he did THAT.  Fun.

In the afternoon there were a few presentations and a chocolate wine pairing, which was not to my taste at all - flavored bon-bons are not good choices for wine pairings.  Carl Keen talked about flavenoid research, and I really want to do some further reading when I get some time.  Dove dark chocolates is the take home message.  The flavenoid concentration depends on how you prepare the chocolate, and Dove seems to hang on to the most of them.  Also the active flavenoids in tea appear to be converted into an inactive form the longer the tea sits at a higher temperature.  I will experiment with brewing my tea at a slightly lower temperature to see if I can take advantage of this information.  I may as well take health advantage of my addictions.