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Today was the first day of our “Of Spice & Men” project. The goal of the project is to measure the human preference for the tastes of different plants and compare it to each plant’s germ-killing effects. The essential question behind the experiment is one that baffled scientists for centuries. Why do we enjoy the tastes of mint, cinnamon, and other herbs & spices, when they offer little nutritional benefit?
We began with a PowerPoint (posted above) that introduced all of the different components of the project. We started with the big-picture question: Why do we like what we like? Then we discussed the history of spices, some information about germs, and how scientists experiment with germs using Petri dishes, agar, etc. At the end of class, we measured the human preference for the different plants we’ll be testing using a simple classroom survey. Students smelled eight different spices and rated how they thought each one would taste, on a scale from 1 to 5. No surprise here; cinnamon had the highest rating.