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chickenScientific Method In Action

The Strange Case of BeriBeri

In 1887 a strange nerve disease attacked the people in the Dutch East Indies. The disease was beriberi. Symptoms of the disease included weakness and loss of appetite, victims often died of heart failure. Scientists thought the disease might be caused by bacteria. They injected chickens with bacteria from the blood of patients with beriberi. The injected chickens became sick. However, so did a group of chickens that were not injected with bacteria.

One of the scientists, Dr. Eijkman, designed a new experiment based on his own observations. Before the experiment, all the chickens had eaten whole-grain rice, but during the experiment, the chickens were fed polished rice. Dr. Eijkman researched this interesting case and found that polished rice lacked thiamine, a vitamin necessary for good health.

1. State the question or problem that Dr. Eijkman investigated.

2. What was the original hypothesis?

3. What was the manipulated (independent) variable and the ressponding (dependent) variable?

4. Write a statement that summarizes the results of the experiment.

5. How would Dr. Eijkman test his new hypothesis?

How Penicillin Was Discovered

In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming was studying Staphylococcus bacteria growing in culture dishes. He noticed that a mold called Penicillium was also growing in some of the dishes. A clear area existed around the mold because all the bacteria that had grown in this area had died. In the culture dishes without the mold, no clear areas were present.

Fleming hypothesized that the mold must be producing a chemical that killed the bacteria. He decided to isolate this substance and test it to see if it would kill bacteria. Fleming transferred the mold to a nutrient broth solution. This solution contained all the materials the mold needed to grow. After the mold grew, he removed it from the nutrient broth and then added the broth to a culture of bacteria. He observed that the bacteria in the culture died. Fleming's experiments were later used to develop antibiotics. .

6. State the question or problem that Fleming investigated.

7. What was Fleming's hypothesis?

8. How was the hypothesis tested?

9. Write a statement that summarizes the results of the experiment.

10. This experiment lead to the development of what major medical advancement?