Of Spice and Men Notes (pg414)

Grade Levels
6th - 9th
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Standards
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Pages
10+
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Description

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.

Total Pages
10+
Answer Key
N/A
Teaching Duration
45 minutes
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Standards

to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
NGSSMS-LS4-3
Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy. Emphasis is on inferring general patterns of relatedness among embryos of different organisms by comparing the macroscopic appearance of diagrams or pictures. Assessment of comparisons is limited to gross appearance of anatomical structures in embryological development.
NGSSMS-LS4-1
Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past. Emphasis is on finding patterns of changes in the level of complexity of anatomical structures in organisms and the chronological order of fossil appearance in the rock layers. Assessment does not include the names of individual species or geological eras in the fossil record.
NGSSMS-LS4-2
Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships. Emphasis is on explanations of the evolutionary relationships among organisms in terms of similarity or differences of the gross appearance of anatomical structures.
NGSSMS-LS4-5
Gather and synthesize information about technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms. Emphasis is on synthesizing information from reliable sources about the influence of humans on genetic outcomes in artificial selection (such as genetic modification, animal husbandry, gene therapy); and, on the impacts these technologies have on society as well as the technologies leading to these scientific discoveries.
NGSSMS-LS4-4
Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment. Emphasis is on using simple probability statements and proportional reasoning to construct explanations.

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