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Museum of Me: March 2023 Exhibit

The museum is back after last month’s hiatus and the guides are eager to share about the most memorable thing I learned in science class.

In preparation, let me say that I almost skipped this month’s exhibit. You see, I was a social studies and literature geek, science and math (especially math) were subjects that were challenging for me. My initial thought on this was that I couldn’t actually think of anything I learned in science class. Womp womp. But then I toured Kym’s exhibit. And Bonny’s. And the wheels began to turn and I realized that there is something very memorable that I learned in science class.

The controlled experiment.

Here are three things you need to know about this topic from ThoughtCo:

  • A controlled experiment is simply an experiment in which all factors are held constant except for one: the independent variable.
  • A common type of controlled experiment compares a control group against an experimental group. All variables are identical between the two groups except for the factor being tested.
  • The advantage of a controlled experiment is that it is easier to eliminate uncertainty about the significance of the results.

I think I learned this concept in 6th grade but it may have been 7th. And it’s something that I still think about often. Mostly, I think of it in terms of dismissing results because the variables weren’t controlled! But I know it comes into play when I’m making sourdough bread or pizza, when I’m gardening or even playing around with paint.

For the purposes of this month’s exhibit, suppose I want to know if my sourdough started responds better to bread flour instead of regular flour. I would separate my starter into two containers and feed one with the bread flour and one with the regular flour. And then I would treat them exactly the same otherwise . . . same light exposure, same temperature, same glass jars, etc. I would then measure the results and see if there is a difference. (Spoiler alert, bread flour is better for feeding a starter.)

That’s sort of it for my scientific knowledge but thinking about this month’s exhibit has got me thinking about science in general and how it shows up in my daily life more than I realize. And that’s got to be a good thing.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. I love this, Carole! (especially the bread flour tip!) And I love how science is part of every day life!

    Thank you for sharing your awesome science experience! XO

  2. Science. It has a way of creeping into our lives without our even being aware of it, y’know? (I think our love for or distaste of certain subjects . . . poetry, for example, or science . . . has a lot to do with our elementary school teachers and their feelings on the subject. Luck of the draw, a lot of the times. Just sayin.)

  3. This sounds like a good scientific concept to me! Many people tend to forget that they need to isolate one variable at a time, but if you can do that, you often get valuable results (like what flour is better for feeding a starter). I rarely use bread flour, but this is good to know. Maybe I should conduct a controlled experiment with bread flour myself!

  4. I think what I appreciate the most about my science classes now is that they taught me a different way to think, which your controlled experiment very well illustrates. The average person wouldn’t think there would be anything scientific in baking or cooking, but so much of it is! As an aside, it’s good to know about the bread flour. I tried sourdough during the early days of the pandemic, and it was an utter failure. But I would like to try again. Perhaps if I use actual bread flour, I’ll have better results.

  5. What a great experiment. And I find it amazing how often science creeps into our lives – daily for sure! I grew up with a father who was a PhD chemist and 3 brothers who all ended up as chemists or aerospace engineers. You can imagine what our dinner table conversations were like. LOL

  6. I think science & math both show up a bit more in the day-to-day than we realize… but never algebra! YMMV! haha

  7. That’s a great example of “science in real life” – and why it drives me crazy when “some people” try to fix something and they fiddle with lots of things all at once, instead of systematically trying ONE thing at a time. Also, baking in general makes me wish I’d paid more attention in science class (and I started college as a chemical engineering major – I had a LOT of science in school).

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