Bread Science Giveaway

If your high school science classes were anything like mine, they were never like this.

The Krebs cycle, hydrogen bonds, osmosis, asexual reproduction. Does the mere mention of this stuff make you start to hyperventilate? Or fall on your knees and thank all that is good and powerful that you will never have to endure those fathomless lectures again?

If it does, then it’s a shame Emily Buehler wasn’t your teacher, and Bread Science your textbook.

Buehler, a PhD chemist who turned out to have a calling as a professional baker and baking teacher, gets down and dirty with the science of why bread works. What is fermentation, exactly, and why does it make bread taste good? How does the seeming magic of gluten development really occur? What makes those atoms want to nestle together in just the right way to produce a lofty loaf? Buehler tells and illustrates all, more clearly than any teacher or textbook I have ever had.

But even if you don’t think molecules and reactions are at all your thing and you just want to know how to bake better bread, read the book. You can defer Chapter 2, the hard-core science chapter, until you’re ready for it, and skip ahead to the chapters on the how-to of bread baking. No recipes here (well, maybe one or two), but tons of good information on the why and and the how of preferments, mixing, shaping, proofing, and baking.

Because she is generous in addition to being smart and talented, Emily Buehler has a signed copy of Bread Science to send to one of you seasoned or budding bread scientists. A comment about your best or worst science class memory gets you a chance to win. The deadline to enter the random drawing is 11:59 PM PDT on Saturday, May 16; international entries welcome!

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Janknitz says

    Mr. Van Brocklin was my chemistry teacher in high school. He sported a little Van Dyck goatee and slightly slanted eyes that made you think of stories of the devil come to earth, but he really was a kind man.

    Chemistry and I did not get along. Sometime during the first week of class, we learned about Avagrado’s number, and somehow, my pea brain got stuck right there. When I should have been applying the correct formulas to determine molecular weights and apply that to the problems set for us, I was still musing about where Avagrado got that number and why it works. And so, I fell behind and proceeded to get behinder and behinder as the semester slogged on.

    However, I did TRY. I came in before school and during lunch for Mr. Van Brocklin to patiently tutor me. My smarter friends tried to help me understand. I did every bit of homework, struggling for hours to do a few problems my classmates whizzed through and often getting them wrong.

    Mr. Van B was perceptive enough to see how hard I was trying, and he gave me a C for the semester, even though I didn’t earn it. I was an A student in other subjects, so it was still a blow.

    I dropped high school chemistry, and instead took a junior college “conceptual chemistry” class at night. I got the concepts, and without the math in the way (no Avagrado) I managed to get the highest grade in the college level class (to the chagrin of older classmates since we were graded on a curve).

    But I’m still thankful to Mr. Van B who recognized my efforts and didn’t flunk me.

    PS I did much better in other science classes and still remember things like the Krebs cycle in excruciating detail. So yeast science and I get along fine ;o)

  2. says

    I went to an all girls school. My school was an old colonial building, and the science room was a wondrous example of turn of the twentieth century Cape Dutch torture chamber. Perpetually cold with stools that forced you into maniacal and perpetual perching. At the end of 50 minutes, your legs and rear were numb; you could always tell when a girl had been in physics as they walked like they were drunk. Plus, we wore uniforms in winter that required the itchiest stockings on the planet.

    The school lab was, however, fitted with a modern hood and vent system for experiments. One normal, itchy, numb-legged day, I inadvertently did not close the hood and flooded the lab with Bromine gas. Though my experiment was successful, the whole floor had to be evacuated as Bromine gas is utterly noxious.

    This was the start of my long and torrid affair with science classes. I had the dubious honor of being “the most times under the eye-wash/emergency shower” at university. I am much better in an environment where I can lick things with impunity (or, at least, without burning my lips on the sodium hydroxide). That place is certainly not chem lab…

  3. says

    Oh dear, memories… It all started Freshman year with Mr. McCarroll’s Biology class. We had to dissect worms, and I protested, saying that it wasn’t necessary to do this and that it was cruel because they were still alive! Got me a trip to the Principal’s office and a stern warning.
    Next came the frogs the following year…Internet was still a baby and we didn’t have enough computers in our classroom, so the Principal poo-pooed my using technology as an alternative to killing idea and I got two hours suspension for causing trouble.
    My teachers were thrilled when I spent my Junior year overseas because that was the cat dissection…I probably would have chained myself to a bunsen burner or something!

  4. Ryan says

    I mispronounced organism as something similar to my 8th grade science teacher, who might I add was rather attractive and female

  5. says

    My best science class memory is one presentation week in 8th grade. Our chemistry teacher had few redeeming qualities, but he was a real pyromaniac, and that made up for quite a lot of his shortcomings.

    So, on the second day of presentation week, he picked up a few of his students, a huge plastic tub filled with soap water, a nine-foot bamboo cane, a sparkling light and two HUGE balloons filled with oxygen and one with hydrogen.

    We set up the experiment / explosion in the middle of the main hall, a pretty high place that doubled as a theater. I don’t think I need to get into the details – but DAMN was it loud, the loudest think I ever heard! It was the first time ever that I rather saw and felt a sound than actually heard it. One could honestly see the soundwave of the bang as a singular bend in the air! I am still giggling at the memory after all these years.

    Alright, it was actually pretty dangerous and we might have lost our hearing, but that teacher sure knew how to get boys into science!

  6. says

    Great book! Looks like a treasure trove of information.
    My worst science class was in grade seven or eight when our science teacher gave each pair of students a live lobster to name, examine, and generally play with. Then he took it away and boiled it. Then we had to disect it, examine and identify all the insides. Then he handed out melted butter and we had to eat this lobster that we had played with, named and disected. I am almost over it now..

  7. martina says

    While I’m reading these first comments I feel I lost a lot of funny experiences… we’ve never dissected something at school! I’ve to wait until comparative anatomy class at university to open up a fish (a thawed “some day before” one) …not so funny! Was that unfair? Yes, it was. I remember very well every single chemistry course I had to take in my biology faculty and I always asked myself:”Why I’ve to got 8 chemistry courses in a biology faculty?? ” No one answered me…Btw I’m a biologist with a weird connection with chemistry. I’ve never loved it anyway. Martina

  8. Chavi says

    No specific memory to tell about, just the general comment that taking physics in my junior year of high school instead of the easier option of earth science was the worst decision I’d made the whole year. I was miserable.. but at least I passed the state exam…

  9. says

    Definitely Ms Brunner, 9th grade. We dissected frogs and rats, and so the entire room smelled of formaldehyde. She’d flit around the room, spraying Febreze or Lysol or something like that, until someone became horrified by the fact they had to crack open the frog’s rib cage. Then she’d just set down the air freshener, walk over, and say “You just need to use more force!” and crack the rib cage open with her bare hands. It was simultaneously impressive and disturbing, but probably the only biology class I ever enjoyed. Ms Brunner was a riot!

  10. Stephanie says

    I hated high school chemistry. I earned a C in it. Then I discovered that to be accepted into Nursing School I had to audit and retest in Chemistry. I earned an A!! I took several chemistry classes in college and discovered that I I had actually learned something by sitting in on HS chem. classes. I was very much at the top of my chem. classes in college. I’m grateful to my HS guidance counsellor for encouraging me to do that audit! Steph

  11. Eva Y says

    I don’t know if it’s the “worst” experience, but definitely most memorable. We had to melt copper discs to measure the amount of pure copper under the hood for chemistry, because the fumes produced were toxic. I thought mine pretty much cleared, so I took it out of the hood, but smelled a weird smell… Stupidly, I took it to my teacher, who sternly said, “put it back in the hood, now!”… I was scared, and worried also that I might die soon from consuming the fumes. But I’m still here, so all is well.

  12. SallyBR says

    Should I NOT confess that I do research in a Biochemistry department? with bacteria?

    yeah, maybe I should not

    but still, I would love to have this book, so I’m leaving a comment and crossing my fingers

  13. H says

    Designed a laser system to puncture radiators of the cars that get just behind you making headlights meaning “ey! scum! I’m doing 160 km/h and you’re only 120, move out NOW”

    I remember that professor each time I drive.

  14. Nick says

    My worst experience with a science class was probably taking my physics final exam after surgery to put a metal plate in my ankle. I was wheelchair bound, in a significant amount of pain, and still slightly dopey from the meds the day before. Not the teacher’s fault though – she was very accommodating about the whole thing.

  15. says

    unluckily, the only science i took at high school was physics *sigh*. and when i had that urge to study agriculture, i made it run away, because, you know, not having had 2 out of 3 exams required to enter..
    chose maths instead, hated 3/4 minutes of it. hm..

  16. Kai says

    My high school physics teacher was a crazy, wacky woman. She dressed like an engineer in slacks and collared shirts and constantly came up with quirky ways to remember the basic tenants of physics. For kinetics she would use a stick figure guy with a cape, the physics superhero. We shot him out of cannons,dropped him out of the sky and when we learned relativity we slammed him into barns and had him lost in space. Whenever I have an applicable problem in almost any of my college classes I use that same superhero, because it’s always more fun to slam people into gold foil than electrons.

  17. shayn says

    the entirety of 12 grade physics is my worst science class memory. i’m not even sure why i was taking the class, since only three years of science were required for graduation, except something vague about making college applications look more impressive.

    the teacher was an ex-marine in his 40s or 50s who always wore sunglasses inside and out and spent much of our class time drawing elaborate likenesses of guns, cars, and airplanes ostensibly to illustrate the physics problems. he had pretty much no affect and spoke in a loud monotone. i was pretty good at math in those days (alas, no longer) but learning anything from this man proved challenging to say the least. it was the first and only time i ever got a talking to from the guidance councilor about concern for my grade.

    not to be too dramatic, but the next year i ended up at a liberal arts school with no distribution requirements, and i never took another hard science class since.

  18. says

    This book sounds great. For science class memory, I recall negotiating alternative projects in an attempt to avoid the insect collection. Didn’t work. I had to collect bugs like everybody else!

  19. Lija says

    I did a lot of science courses in high school and university, so I have a lot of good and bad memories. Truly bad would be failing biochemistry, but funny bad goes back to high school chemistry and physics classes. We sat on stools in a science lab and I was often bored. And, like most teenagers, sleep deprived. There was one occasion where I woke myself up by falling off my stool as I had drifted off to sleep in mid-lecture. Luckily I woke up fast enough to catch myself before hitting the desk or floor, but it was a close one.

  20. says

    Great giveaway! Honestly, any memories of science class are pretty vague. I didn’t take any in college because I didn’t have to.

    I guess one memory that stands out is when we had to dissect frogs… let’s just say it’s not a good one. :p

  21. Judy says

    After reading the previous comments, I guess it is somewhat common to have a difficult time with science classes. I realize many brilliant students take their studies seriously and responsibly, but long ago, I was not one of them. Generally speaking, I think, that there is respectable percentage of students who think that education is some kind of punishment foisted upon them to punish them. They, thinking that they are so clever, do everything in their power to pass classes without learning a thing. Education is wasted upon these people until their brains eventually realize that knowledge is a gift. I was one of these people.
    My chemistry professor was a kind, pleasant man…I’m sure somebody’s grandpa (who knows…maybe he was only 32…ha ha) and he tried to hard to show us how chemistry applied to our everyday life. One of the only things I remember is the pH balance and why hair conditioner “works”. Duh!
    I am ashamed of my lost opportunities.
    I had an F going into the final. He gave us a HUGE multiple choice test for the final…and it was my lucky day for guessing. I could remember just enough to pick the right answer….sometimes it was a PURE guess. I got an A !!!!! That averaged out my grade to a C for the class. Believe me, I’m not proud.
    I might add that bread making is one of my favorite things to do and I AM often proud of my efforts.

  22. says

    With a Ph.D. in biochemistry, I have a lot of science memories from which to choose. Best memory is when I walked in to my 300 level molecular biology course to find that the professor was also the guy that played tenor sax in my college’s jazz band. The hardest part about the class was calling him Dr. so and so instead of just Bob.

    Anyways, even with significant research and study of yeast genetics and biochemistry, I would absolutely love a book on the science behind the bread making processes. I was so perplexed the first time my wife asked me to knead the bread, what on earth for was all I could think! We took a class at Zingerman’s Bakery, which explained a bit of the process, but it sounds like this book would be an excellent addition. Thanks.

  23. Tamra says

    Science class experience? I disliked every science class I took, elementary, middle, high school and college, except physics. My favorite science memory was my Chem I professor in college, who was very old and a terrible teacher but re-used all the same tests each year and made previous ones available on reserve at our universities library. I passed that class with an A w/o ever understanding his lectures-I didn’t skip class though!

    I’ve always been exposed to bread-making through my mom and now I’m married to a scientist who is educating me in layman’s terms about science and I educate him on bread-making! It’s a fun combination! We would sure enjoy this book together.

  24. says

    This was probably my best AND worst science class memory. It was first-year undergraduate biology lab, and we were dissecting rats. I thought (and still do) that anatomy was fascinating, and my partner and I cut through the skin and marveled at the different organs and discussed how we would be different (besides being bigger) if we were cut open.

    Then at some point I realized the rat, which had been warm when we got it, was cooling and the fluids were congealing. Then I got dizzy and sick and had to sit down somewhere where I couldn’t look at my specimen anymore. Ever since, I’ve had the same reaction whenever I’ve had to dissect whole animals (the graduate lab experience with the guillotined mouse didn’t help) or have blood drawn from me. It totally pisses me off because I still think anatomy is interesting, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it.

  25. says

    My best science class experience was making boats powered by baking soda and vinegar. With a bottle strapped onto a plastic speedboat, my conocoction zoomed around the plastic pool. Other than that I think I’ve blocked out the rest which was more like death by applied math than anything else.

  26. says

    I always thought I hated science in general, but as I think back on my school days now, I realize that I liked those subjects that were taught by teachers I liked, and that I never had had a science teacher I liked! Until, that is, my sophomore year in high school.

    Mr. Bitsko was my Biology I teacher that year, and for awhile I used my class time in my usual manner (to read whatever current adventure novel I was into), but slowly I warmed to Bitsko and started to even take an interest in Biology. Mr. Bitsko’s routine was to begin each class by asking several questions about the previous night’s reading assignment – I NEVER took part in these sessions, until, that is, one earth shattering day when somehow my growing interest brought me to class actually prepared and having read the homework reading.

    Mr. Bitsko began by asking his usual opening three questions, to which apparently no one but I had the answers that day. I, of course, was expecting Mr. Bitsko to properly reward me with some positive feedback, but I’ll never forget how he handled that opportunity – he stared at me for a silent moment, and finally said, “I don’t know what’s going on back there, but I’m finding it a bit hard to believe that you’re coming up with those answers honestly.”

    But that experience served me well later in life – although it was the end of my warming relationship with Mr. Bitsko, I would remember it well when I later became a teacher myself, and determined to put all those lessons of the reluctant student to work for me as I labored in the classroom – “Teaching Moments” may be infrequent and difficult to identify, but they are the key to effective teaching (and learning!).

    Mr. Bitsko taught me far more than he ever realized.

  27. says

    This isn’t quite a ‘class’ memory, but still an embarrassing science-related story. I am a geologist and have to do field work in order to collect the rocks I study. After my freshman year in college I did field work with my advisor in Scotland. The area where we were working had much more peat than actual rock outcrop, so we had to look hard for rock that we could sample. I wanted to impress my advisor with the wealth of geology jargon I acquired my first year in college and attempted to drop some casually into the conversation. In the field loose rocks or boulders that aren’t attached to a larger rock mass are known as ‘float.’ I came across one such boulder and declared, “Well this sure is a big floater!” My advisor just cracked up laughing and gently explained to me what the correct terminology was. Needless to say, I was quite embarrassed.

  28. says

    Ughhhh! I shudder at the memory of the day we dissected the fetal pigs in Grade 12 Biology class. I was in a group with two other girls, but both of them were exceedingly squeamish and somehow I was elected to do all of the cutting. Now, that would have been okay, despite the fact that for some reason the school made us save and re-use our surgical gloves (um, gross!), and despite the fact that the formaldehyde made my eyes sting… But unfortunately for me, the first cut with the scalpel revealed that our little piggy was juicy. It squirted. I don’t think I really need to elaborate on that.

    Great giveaway- thanks!

  29. says

    Thats sounds like the right book for me, because I always like chemestry so much. Not so much as I like microbiology (but I am doing my Ph.D in microbiology, so I am prejudiced). And I always love the sience behind baking :-)
    So my memory is not so much a specific memory about chemestry at school, but a very accurate memory of the teacher. Herr Wissemann, my chemestry-teacher for 9 years, who always gave us a lot of experiments to do by ourself, always kind and patient. I loved his lessons, but always had the feeling, that while it was a lot of fun, I never learned a lot about mechanisms behind.
    But then, sitting in my chemestry and biochemestry lessons at univeristy I realised: “Hey, I understand what they are talking about, I learned this at school”. And then I realised, that the best teacher is the teacher, who teach you without you realising it.

  30. says

    My Chem teacher from high school was a little bit crazy and would always lecture us on how americans mis-pronounced the word almond. She would write both “almond” and “salmon” on the board and point out how the “almon” part was the same in both and as such should be pronounced the same way. So, apparently it isn’t pronounced all-mond but realy a-min. She was nuts.

  31. says

    The one and only thing that I will always remember from our chemistry class was the teacher making one of his experiments explode. This resulted in a hole in the roof and a bang so loud that the whole school was able to hear it.

  32. Mercy says

    My very worst memory of a science class was in 11th grade AP Biology. I had the worst teacher ever. She hardly ever knew what was going on, was totally oblivious to cheating students in the class, and loved to hate on me for no reason. She used to single me out to ask me in a very condescending voice, “do you understand what’s going on?”

    In High school, I was very involved with my tennis team. She had the gall to approach my coach during AP test season to tell him that she didn’t think I could pass the AP test, and that she hoped he could “somehow inspire me to pass.” Well, I passed with a 4 with a 1 day cram session, and instead of congratulating me, thanked my coach for somehow managing to get me to pass.

    I guess I can say something good came out of this experience; she probably refueled my interest in science, and consequently, I now have a degree in bio sci, and work as a researcher doing molecular biology!

    I love reading science books (just for fun!) and I have a whole collection of them on my bookshelf. Seeing as my other passion is baking, the melding of my two favorite interests into one book sounds wonderful!

  33. Hollie says

    well in my home-ec class (before I knew anything about kitchens!!) I created a science experiment… Though I’m not sure that this counts. It involved foil and a microwave and a small fire, and therefore a bad grade. My friend and I needed to soften the butter… we were young and foolish, believers that microwaves could do anything, and were invincible. We plopped that foil wrapped cold butter in the microwave, pushed a few buttons, turned to do something else, turned back and our mouths fell open as we witnessed the microwave flaming.

    Lesson learned… the hard way.

  34. Patsy says

    Mixing Iodine crystals with high strength ammonia – I didn’t believe the result could be explosive & poured a 500g jar into a 1litre beaker. The result caused explosions which blew holes in pants when students sat down, firecracker pops walking down the labs & a 1 foot hole in a thick lab bench!
    I survived & went to Med School.

  35. Dale says

    Because my brain was not fully formed I asked my science teacher, Mr. Smith, “Where am I going to use this stuff?” What I should have said (and what I really meant) was, “Could you give me an example of how I might practically apply this information?” Ah well, maybe I needed the stern lecture I got anyway.

  36. SulaBlue says

    I have always loved science class. It was the one class, other than art, where I was guaranteed to sit to the front and pay attention. There was something magical about the seeming alchemy of it all. I loved nothing better than science lab – especially with Mrs. Green, my science teacher throughout all my years of high school.

    No matter what the topic was, be it chemistry, physics or biology, you could always get Mrs. Green off-topic with two things: Star Trek or Sodium Metal. At least a couple of times a year she would toss a small bit of sodium metal into water as a demo.

    Well, one year she did this and apparently got a bit more surface area than usual. Thankfully she was big on safety and we all had on goggles, were sitting way back, and she was using very, very long tongs and gloves. That bit of sodium metal blew out of the test beaker and proceeded to put a small hole right through the ceiling tile!

  37. says

    I remember grade 11 biology very well – we had to dissect a fetal pig. Some piglets were more mature than others, and had their eyes open. The table next to me had one like that, and as they went to make the first cut on the throat one of the eys dislodged, rolling out across the lab bench. It was the year Pirates of the Caribbean came out, so we all found it gross but hilarious.

    That same class period another group cut the pig’s head off and stuck it onto the end of a pencil, naming it “Lord of the Flies”.

    Ahh, the days of youth!

  38. says

    I remember sitting on one of the black stools in the chemistry lab and burning a hole through the bottom of my shirt due to the chemicals. That is the only bad memory I can think of :).

  39. Brianna says

    Wow, apparently I’m in a minority here. I loved cutting things open. (Okay, the formaldehyde smell was NASTY, but you have to take the bad with the totally awesome.) It was the only bloody thing I liked about science class because my teachers were all over the “hard science” and math, when I wanted — like someone else mentioned — to know what the blessed hell I could do with this knowledge. Given just one or two practical application experiments, and I probably would have loved science class. Like bread baking! =)

    To this day, friends and family are baffled at how I can watch open-heart surgery on the learning channel while eating. xD

  40. Chuck says

    My best science class was when the teacher demonstrated helium and hydrogen balloons. He touched the helium balloon with a match and it popped, obviously. Then he touched the hydrogen balloon with a match and burned the hair off his arm with the resulting fireball! He wasn’t injured and we heard that he used a match on the end of a yard stick for the rest of his classes that day.

  41. says

    I remember my science teacher sent me to one of the meanest nun at my school (I didn’t do my assignment project), then the nun asked me to stand in the corner of the class, facing all of the student for the whole hour. She didn’t allow me to do anything other then stand and stare at all of those students. It was pretty humiliating! This was brutal, and I never forgive them for that! It happened twice with this nun, one day I forgot to cut my nail short (your nail should be extremely short, nail polish was out of question, you not allow to wear any make up what so ever) You know what this nun did? She hit all of my fingers with ruler. I remembered I was cried! I hated her so much! Of course this will not happen her in the States, but it was pretty common punishment in Indonesia (catholic school). I am pretty sure they still do that. There you go, now you know why I don’t like science!

  42. says

    My favourite science class experiment:

    In 7th grade, we were supposed to do a bunch of Mendelian squares (the genetics charts; though I might have the name wrong). I did all my charts and left them on the table to go to bed. When I woke up, my dog had chewed apart half my homework.

    I went to class and told my teacher the dog ate my homework. He looked at me like I was insane and asked why I didn’t do my homework the night before. So I pulled the chewed mass out of my folder and handed it to him. I said, “He really did eat my homework.” The teacher gave me an A on my homework for that day, even though it was completely useless.

  43. says

    Heavens to Betsy, this book sounds like my life. I am currently in grad school studying food science. I got into this field because I wanted to be able to apply science to something real. Also, food rocks. In high school, I had a biology teacher that totally rocked the subject, dressing as Darwin and doing a photo-op in the real Darwin’s now museum home and all. Been addicted to the beauty of logic and science ever since.

  44. tara says

    i’m a chemistry prof who loves to bake so i think this sounds awesome! i had lots of good chemistry classes- things that went boom, teachers who cared, liquid nitrogen ice cream but lots of poor physics & biology classes.

  45. Lisa Chalykoff says

    Worst memory: a badly pithed frog (turned me off zoology forever…)
    Best memory: listening to Mr Calvin go on about chemistry–his genuine engagement made it an emotional and intellectual delight to me…as did the notion of an ordered universe!

  46. Debkb says

    Any science classes were so long ago the worst that comes to mind was dissecting the frog! Something best to forget!

  47. says

    Worst science class memory? High School biology. I fainted in the middle of a lecture. Had absolutely nothing to do with the topic, I just keeled over the side of my desk. Fortunately, gravity kicked in while I was dangling toward the floor and I recovered quickly. But I got a get out of class free ticket!

  48. says

    What an awesome book! My worst experience can be summed up in one word: dissection. Pig fetus, worms, frogs, etc. Disgusting. My best experiences came in my horticultural and food science classes since I was actually interested in the subject matter.

  49. Cameron says

    My best experience was sitting in highschool AP Chem, when out science teacher told us the basics of making liquore, so I went home, and made some. Didn’t go blind, but it turns out I had gone down in history in his class for doing so!

  50. says

    My best and most educational, where I actually learned something I can still apply today was in college. Genius professor, behavioral psychology. I built a skinner box and trained my chicken sam to play a piano, using an intermittent schedule of reinforcement. Only time I ever felt smart in that kind of class. Nearly flunked high school chemistry.

  51. Kristi says

    Two memories come to mind…in Ninth Grade Biology, our teacher made the entire class, or at least the female portion, cringe in horror as he explained to us what an episiotomy is. It’s a miracle any of us went on to have children. And then there was the time I was going to tell my physics teacher about the cool thing that happened when I stuck a knife into a working toaster. After thinking for a moment, I decided not to tell her, as I did not want her to fail me for poor judgement. Instead I decided just to be thankful that I had not been electrocuted!

  52. Mare says

    My hands turned yellow in chem class! My experiment wasn’t working, so I tried holding the plastic tubing in place with my hands. As weak nitric acid leaked out, my hands turned yellow. I didn’t realize what was happening, and when I saw it, I screamed. Naturally, everyone turned around, and there was no way I could keep it a secret.

  53. David says

    We were dissecting frogs in biology class. It was an interior classroom (as were all the “labs”) and therefore had no windows. North Carolina, though not famous for tornadoes, gets its fair share; it got one right then. I had my fingers down the throat of a rigid, formaldehyde-soaked amphibian, a scalpel making the first incision through jaw, and the power went. Suddenly, we had flying frogs and splats and screams all over the classroom. It seems like everyone decided to through their frog across the room at their best friend or enemy at the same time! (I was excluded. I can’t claim maturity–in fact I was scared of cutting off my fingers if I moved too suddenly.)

    The lights came back on seconds later. The room was covered with frog guts. I don’t remember how the teacher reacted, or even what the aftermath was. I can only remember the frog that had been stuck to the ceiling peel off and land right on top of the head of my lab partner.

  54. David says

    P.S. I just read a lot of the other comments. It’s hilarious how memorable that frog dissection was!

  55. Brian says

    Best experience: Biology, I loved it, even the dissecting part. As a kid, I loved looking at things through a microscope and dreamt of becoming microbiologist or medical researcher. What killed that dream? Chemistry! I struggled with it as I couldn’t conceptualize things (like molecules and molecular structures) I couldn’t see. Plus, the math took its toll, too.

    I became an English major instead and left the cure for the common cold for someone else to discover.

  56. jacquie says

    always was kind of a “science nerd” who liked to understand the why behind what worked or did not. so i would love a copy of the book for that reason.

  57. MikeW says

    I always loved science. The best science class was Junior High Physics. The teacher was an astronomer, doing post-doc research while teaching. A great class!

    Sadly it didn’t work for him. He couldn’t do both, managed to snag a grant, and left teaching.

  58. Jon says

    Worst: 6th Grade – watching the teacher inflate a set of dissected pig lungs by blowing into them, then promptly having to be escorted from the room so as not to faint!

    Best: 9th Grade – hearing the BARK of exploding hydrogen we had collected in small test tubes from some simple reaction that I can’t quite remember. I do remember that sound, though!

    Two memories I can still very vividly recall!

  59. lisa says

    Oh! This is easy. Grade 11 Chemistry. We were studying esters, you know, compounds that make things smell like bananas or strawberries or the like. My chemistry teacher opened up a bottle of an extremely stinky ester that smelled like a combination of rotten eggs, gasoline, farts and BO all mixed together. I was right next to him when he did it and somehow the smell stuck very tenaciously to ME! I had to go directly home in the middle of the day to shower and wash my clothes.

  60. says

    I am so the ungeek,you know! Science for me was planting illicit seeds in a fish tank in biology class, when the shoots appeared we all cheered, to the dismay of my teacher!
    Emily’s book is great and she also was a great guest on my blog for an interview. Though I have yet too complete her book, it’s well worth writing a comment in hopes of winning a copy! I dare say if you don’t win, give Emily an order for a copy, nice lady, great book!

    Happy baking!

  61. says

    I used to love my science lessons, well all of them apart from physics. My teacher was an ex army sergeant and he ran the class like an army squad – he’d have us all lining up to answer questions and he was always in the habit of throwing tennis balls around the room, sure we all developed quick reflexes!

    Emily’s book sounds fabulous, I’d love to get my hands on a copy. I’ll be off to amazon to buy one if I don’t win here :)

  62. Alison says

    My biology teacher was a huge Redskins fan, and she promised us we could skip a major exam if they won the Superbowl. They won, and we watched a movie instead of taking the exam. All of her students were thrilled!

  63. says

    It was my, ‘I want to slide, and hide, under the desk moment.’

    1966, small rural town, northern Colorado, Eighth Grade Science Class, test day:

    I was a nervous wreck. It’s test day and although I’ve crammed and studied, I’m nervous. The teacher announces the exam will have 100 questions, we are to read over the exam, fully, before beginning.

    Awe heck, why scan and read this long item, I’m going to just get busy and see how many answers I can remember before I forget what I’d crammed into this brain of mine.

    I’m distracted from time to time with people in the classroom. They seem a bit fidgety and uncomfortable in their seats. No one is talking though, because to do so (in this year and time), would have meant immediate explusion from the classroom. Okay. I continue on, attacking the test sheet as if I really know what I’m doing. The distractions continue, but I don’t look up, only sideways from time to time. These folks have ants in their pants. I don’t know what there problem is, but I’m getting peeved. I don’t like their shuffling and nervous twitches. Not to worry, I simply keep working my test sheet. And then it happens. It came out of nowhere. It hit me! I was shell-shocked. I was embarrassed. I was slow. I was obvious.
    It seems I was the last to arrive at reading what I should have read before beginning. When the instructor had announced that we should look over the exam before beginning, I had failed to NOTICE that the only thing required for passing was one simple instruction. There it was, about number 12 or 14 of the exam, something along these lines:

    “If you have gotten to this part of the paper you will follow no further. Stand up, turn around, and then sit back down as quietly as you can. If you do this before writing anything on your paper, you automatically earn 100%. All other grading will be weighted to this point.”

  64. Jia says

    oh chemistry :S I’m so glad that my days of trying to distil and whatnot are over. My best chemistry class memories involve sloshing every testtube of my obtained “products” into the same containerat the end of each class in the hope of producing some sort of spontaneous combustion. Or failing that, at least some exciting colourful smoke and sparkles (so I wasn’t the most realistic of chemistry students). Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps, for my classmates), the school never supplied us with sufficiently dangerous or concentrated chemicals for my little experiments to have any effect whatsoever.

  65. jennifer says

    my 11th grade biology teacher told us haw milk gets from the cow to the table – his objective was to make us barf.. I don’t really remember what he said but I still don’t drink milk!

  66. says

    My best Chemistry class memory was when we made our own “numbing” agent – like lidocaine! We all tested it out on ourselves and walked around the rest of the day with half our faces dead!

  67. says

    Wow. I’m a biology major, so I have a lot of memories.

    Best: one Friday after dinner, I went over to the Microbiology lab to check on my petri dishes. It was around 5:00 PM. The next time I looked up, it was 11:00 PM. I was as happy as a clam, and that’s when I knew I’d chosen the right major.

    Worst? Ugh. My Chinese Calculus Physics teacher who could not speak English? Pithing frogs? Injecting mice in the abdomen? I shudder at the thought!

  68. kathleen says

    I have no memories of science class I am totally blank 30 years later, altho I have somewhat of a hazy memory reference some frog that smelled horrible.

  69. pulverschwein says

    Ah, science class! I had anatomy/physiology and did well in the class other than the comments on my papers that included diagrams saying, “this is not art class, it is science, draw accordingly” now waht the heck does that mean? Were my drawings too good?
    I also remember “pithing” the frog and then dissecting it so that we could see the vital organs at work i.e: the heart pumping…..and really wondering if we got it “pithed” correctly, do frogs scream in agony? How were we to know it wasn’t feeling anything? Ugh! I have to admit (other than the nagging conscious) it was a very fascinating thing to see/do!
    I grew up to become a fish biologist and actually surgically implant radio tags in fish and track their behavior! Science class pays off!

  70. says

    During inorganic chemistry lab course at university:

    Fellow student 1: *sniffs the air* What’s the name again of that compound which smells like marzipan?

    Fellow student 2: Put that test tube under the fume hood NOW.


  71. Afton says

    When I was in middle school, I had an absolutely fantastic science teacher. We had a competition to build a container for a snowball that would keep it from melting. Whichever group made the best container got to send it with a snowball across the country to another class in California. Even better, our class project was the example for one of the questions in the standardized exams we had to take two years later!

  72. terri says

    my undergrad degree was in biology, so i have lots of science class memories. as for the worst memory–i’m not sure if it was: 1) the physics ta who spent the entire time “helping” (i.e. flirting) with the girls who wore short skirts and ignored the rest of us; 2) the biology lab partner who announced “women’s lib–you pick it up” and made me stick my hand into the bucket of giant cockroaches to get our dissection specimen; 3) the organic chem prof who hated women and made his exams harder and harder because he couldn’t stand it that one bright, young, overachieving guy in the class kept doing well on his exams (i think the average in that class was something between 30-40%)

  73. Julia says

    In first grade, we got to bake bread as an experiment with a live microorganism and how it makes bread rise. Plain old buttertop white bread, spread with butter was the result.

  74. says

    I recall the extreme disappointment when I had to leave school early in the 5th grade for a family ski trip on the day we were going to dissect cow eyes!

    In college I had to take a geology class and never managed to bond with the box of rocks I had to learn to indentify. I think cow eyes would have been more interesting.

  75. Elizabeth says

    I have been looking forward to reading this book because I have found it difficult to get empirically-based, consistent information about bread baking! It seems like there’s an awful lot of speculating out there. I don’t have any great science stories except that I’m getting my ph.d. in physics and so have been taking science classes for an extraordinarly long time. I’ve had some pretty bad teachers along the way but never bad enough to turn me off completely.

  76. Tamara says

    The physics teacher at our high school was pregnant…very pregnant. One of the classes duct taped her out of her classroom one day and she went into labor.

    When she returned we found out she named the child Charles Boyle after the two laws on gas (Charles’ law and Boyle’s law).

    True story.

  77. Erin says

    That prize definitely goes to Mr. Hicks, chemist extraordinaire, who won us all over on the first day of classes by demonstrating…something…by combusting gummy bears in a test tube. And then running out of the room with flames.

  78. Garden Goddess says

    One of the first things my High School Biology teacher did that first semester was to drop a penny into a bottle of Coca Cola. By the end of the semester it had totally dissolved… I think of that and my stomach lining every time I have a cola…

  79. says

    Worst memory was someonce accidentally spilling some acid on a favorite shirt and the acid ripping a hole through my shirt – and then subsequently having to wear my gym uniform shirt the rest of the day. This was in 7th or 8th grade. Those gyms shirts were not attractive.

  80. Sue Prescott says

    I had a Chinese chemistry instructor in junior college. She would tell really lame jokes and the class would groan. One time, after telling a particularly lame one and the class was particularly unappreciative, she turned to us and said, “Just remember there are 1 billion of us out there!” THAT was funny!

  81. Scott Kohler says

    I was a senior in high school, and we were doing blood typing. My friend and I weren’t listening when the teacher said he would be lancing our fingers. So, my friend went ahead and attempted to lance mine. Well, he only had to jam the lancet into my finger 10 times before I started to bleed.

    I do not like the sight of my own blood, and all of this jabbing, pain and bleeding sent me to the bathroom feeling nautious and faint. He was laughing when I came back to the room white as a ghost and looking very sickly.

    Of course, we got a good talking to from the teacher.

  82. Kenny says

    I think my favorite memory didn’t happen in my science class, but in one of my friends. The teacher was demonstrating something with alcohol and lit the lab bench on fire! It was the talk of the school for the next few days. My favorite part of classes that I was in was playing with the Bunsen burner and melting either the glass stirring rods or 1 Yen coins (1g of aluminum each). My lab partner and I got yelled at a few times for that.

  83. Heather says

    Probably my the science class that sticks with me the most was high school Human Phys. We dissected pigs and the teacher had us look through the lens of the eye and everything was upside down. Even though I knew that the brain flipped everything the right way, it made such an impact to actually see it.

  84. says

    My worst Science Class memory was also one of my best…In 5th Grade, the Science teacher was introducing us to Biology studies, and had a large, brown tarantula-type of spider that was his personal pet. One day, he brought it to class, and after a long lecture and discussion session, the teacher let us put the pet spider on our hand. PURELY voluntarily. I was hesitant, but curious, and became enchanted at the large, yet docile creature that walked across the back of my hand. Although strange, it was not scary. The feel of its feet was so unique…

    All went well, except for one girl, who was “overly dramatic” in her personna…She let the teacher put the spider on her, and then with a loud scream, promptly threw it to the ground, killing it.

    I still remember her name, and sadly, I still dislike her intensely for that performance, many decades ago…

    But, since that fateful day, I have learned to treasure the spiders in my gardens, and take delight in seeing the morning dew on their webs. Within reason, of course, as I still do not appreciate them in my house…But that is more a matter of personal space than arachnophobia…I save my phobias for my breadbaking, as I chase the ever elusive “perfect loaf…”

  85. noa says

    I am actually quite scientific-minded, but when it comes to chemistry I draw a blank. I remember the desperation with which I memorized mountains of molecules – name and configuration – hoping for only two things: that I manage to remember them up until the exam, and forget them right after.

  86. Muhammad Khaki says

    Hmmm.. I don’t have much of science class memories left – my head’s filled to capacity with bread making, BP, doughs, poolish, and more. But, if time warped back to junior high, and if I knew then that 20 years later I could win a book on a random drawing with something called ‘the internet’ – I would have written it down. Oh well, so much for science class! :)

    But the book would be amazing for teaching myself and my current ‘cooking science’ class. Now, isn’t that ironic? Although, I will tell my students to make sure they keep at least one memory locked away – hey, you never know what will happen 20 years later for them! :P

  87. says

    here it goes.

    our chemistry teacher often forgot to hand out our exams. so we couldn’t get feedback and evaluate ourselves in terms of our performance and where could we improve etc etc. the teacher invariably handed out our exams on the eve of the next exam. and every exam used to be cumulative!!!!

    so we decided on a little payback. At the end of one of our lab classes, we deliberately left the Kipp’s apparatus (the one used for generating hydrogen sulfide) ‘open’. We made sure the teacher didn’t notice and the teacher also used to lock the door behind her after everyone left. The windows were sealed as well.

    The next day we were all waiting for the teacher to open the door. the minute that happened, the teacher fell down and almost fainted due to the strong stench emanating from the Kipp’s apparatus. we obviously didn’t enter the lab. Thank goodness nothing happened to the teacher but at that time we thought revenge was sweet!

    I feel pretty bad for her now! But well, we were in high school then so one can’t expect us to be mature and all ;)

  88. JanH says

    Senior year of high school I took an Advanced Biology class. Our class was at the same time as a freshman biology class that my younger sister was taking. Since the class was right before lunch, we often made pizzas for lunch during the class. The oven, which was actually for science projects was in the classroom of the freshman biology class. We would wander in during their class and pop our pizzas into the oven, the pull them out when done and leave all the freshman, including my sister, drooling while we went back to our classroom for pizza lunch and biology discussions.

    I have this book. It is absolutely great. I have been thinking about getting my 14yo nephew a copy for his next birthday. He loves to bake and his Mom says that he will be taking up a serious study of biology and chemistry in his home schooling this year. Baking biology and chemistry would be perfect for him.

  89. says

    My worst science class memory was discovering that my sweaty high school Biology teacher had miscalculated my grade (he gave me a ‘B’ instead of an ‘A’), and I only found out about it because a substitute teacher let us look at the grade book. Calling him out on it did not win me any Brownie points.

  90. says

    One of my favourite science class memories is from chemistry class. Like most of the science labs, we had little valves on the tables that let out blasts of high-pressure air. I never really found out what they were supposed to be used for, though they were handy for cleaning things sometimes. I once learned what they’re *not* for though: we had a very old-fashioned manometer (pressure meter) on hand – basically a U-shaped tube opened on both ends and filled with mercury. You would hook up whatever you wanted to measure to one end, and the mercury would get pushed up the tube a distance proportional to the pressure. Turns out these air valves squirt out is at very high pressure indeed – enough to push the mercury up the tube, and out the tube, and all over the room! Good thing mercury isn’t a health hazard… uh, ooops. And no, this measurement was not a school-sanctioned activity!

  91. says

    In my college organic chemistry lab I lighted my Bunsen burner and mindlessly threw the still burning match in the sink. The student sharing a sink with me had just thrown some highly flammable substance into the sink and kaboom! our corner of the lab turned into a very hot spot. The lab instructor was very upset that he had to spray the place down with a fire extinguisher but fortunately the overhead sprinklers didn’t come on. It was the beginning of a long semester in the chemistry lab!

  92. frog princess says

    My enormous purse was on my shoulder when I turned and it knocked a glass jar full of fruit flies off my genetics instructors’ desk. Disgusting mess and stench and insects ensued.
    I was too appalled to apologize or help clean up. I just slunk out.

  93. says

    Funny that so many people with such a distaste for science want in. Oh, well. My personal horror stories come from high school English and college Economics, I distinctly remember taking an exam in that monstrosity several times before scraping a B. Still can’t stand the thought of it.


  1. [...] I’m reading more and more about it, and the more I know, the more confused I get…the Wild Yeast blog has a wonderful giveaway of the book titled “Bread Science” by Emily Buehler…I [...]

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