Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Love to cook? Here's a way to start reading journal articles in science.

Do you love to cook? Or, do some of your students or their parents or grandparents love to cook? Spices provide an interesting and potentially economically interesting link to the technical science literature that you may all find exciting. An introduction to journal articles is perhaps easier if you have another interest, such as cooking, to which you can link new skill in science reading.

For example, Coriandrum sativum L., the spice coriander and also fresh coriander greens, which in Spanish is, "Cilantro," is the subject of the following primary source article, or..."lab report:"

Coriander Under Irrigation in Argentina

Gustavo Luayza, Roberto Brevedan, and Rosana Palomo

Take a look at it and see if you can find the various parts that are common among laboratory reports around the world.

  • Introduction
  • What did you find?

  • Materials and Methods
  • What did they do? What did they use to do it?

  • Results
  • Are there charts, graphs, photos, verbal descriptions? Explain what you found. (Opinions should not be located in this part of the laboratory report. Are there any here?)

  • Discussion and Conclusions (Summary)
  • What opinions are expressed (Here, they can be expressed!)? Is public policy suggested? What do the authors say about more experimentation? Are other sources of information used in the discussion?

  • Literature Cited
  • Did the authors site primary sources? Secondary sources? Personal communication?

Reflection: Do you use similar parts in your laboratory reports? What do you think about what you read? Could you understand it? Perhaps you could just get one or two ideas. If you are just starting to read journal articles, that is certainly to be expected. (Even if you are familiar with journal articles in one field, looking at them in another field may require more vocabulary development and other "Reach Reading" skills.) So do not worry if journal articles seem hard.

So, spices and cooking can provide an introduction to the technical literature. To make the introduction here on coriander relate to other experiences in your life, you might try some foods made with this plant. (Do remember not to eat in the laboratory, however. Follow safety rules.)

Add in some geography: Look at the places where coriander is grown and the countries that use the herb and seeds of coriander in their cuisine.

Coriander/Cilantro Recipes

About Coriander

(c) 2008 J S Shipman

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