Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekly overview - week of January 9

This week, we started our next big interdisciplinary project that aims to answer the question of how we decide what to eat. We'll be answering this question through a wide variety of lenses, including scientific, historical, cultural-social, and environmental. We began with an episode of Michael Pollan's "Cooked" documentary series (we watched "Air," which explores the way that baking transforms raw ingredients into delicious foods). The show examined the historical significance of bread from the earliest known bakers (Egyptians) through Wonder Bread and artisanal sourdough loaves. Students then did an experiment where they observed the way that sugar affects the growth of yeast. We then baked our own bread (it was delicious) and did some reflective writing on both our sensory observations of the bread making experience and how it felt to be connected to people all over the world, throughout history, who have also made their own bread. Students then snacked on their bread while reading an article from the Journal of Social Psychology about a study that on the impact of ambient smells (from a bakery) on participants’ willingness to help strangers. The results of the study suggest that people are kinder to one another when they smell baked goods. This study gave us a chance to review the steps of the scientific method and the concept of single variable experiments. We will be designing our own single variable experiments (related to this topic of study) later this semester.

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