As a society, we all have hundreds of different stimuli before us that allow us to experience a variety of different things. Though we may think that we notice most of what’s going on around us, our five senses only pick up on a small amount of what happening around us.
For example, most of us fail to look at the world and see a lot of what the scientific world can amaze us with.
In fact, you could say science is the underlying reason for everything that we experience on a daily-basis. Almost every aspect of life revolves around the concept of science. In order for someone to understand how or why something works, an understanding of the science behind it is necessary.
In this particular blog post, we will be learning about mixtures in chemistry and how they relate to and are observable in everyday life and academic life.
Specifically, an analysis of cooking as it relates to mixtures will be elaborated upon while we will also learn of how the combination of courses in what is called a learning community can be considered either a homogeneous or heterogeneous mixture.
In order to understand this, we should be aware of what homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures are.
Homogeneous mixtures are mixtures that consist of uniformly distributed components that cannot be mechanically separated nor can the individual components be observed. Also known as a solution, which is a combination of different substances to form one through a chemical reaction. Salt water is an example of this.
A mixture is heterogeneous when it consists of components that are not uniformly distributed and while the individual components can be observed and usually mechanically separated. An example of this would be a pizza.
In other words, homogeneous mixtures take multiple components and make them one. Heterogeneous mixtures allow for each component to maintain its individuality.
In this blog post we will show you how cooking and learning communities, though they may be an everyday thing, can be good settings for a concept of chemistry as we observe the importance of heterogeneous and homogeneous mixtures and how each affects the outcome of what is trying to be created with the purpose of drawing parallels between this world and the world of chemistry.
Mixtures and Cooking
Now that we understand what homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures in chemistry are, let us take a look at how we can observe them in an everyday real life setting.
Shift your mind from the science lab to your very own kitchen. The kitchen is our lab for now, as we analyze the importance of homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures in baking a cake.
Have you ever baked a cake (or even cookies) and they just don’t come out the way you expected? And then you realized that instead of mixing the dry ingredients separate from the wet ones, you just mashed them all together thinking it wouldn’t make any difference? Doing this as we know results in a nasty concoction. Now, before we sit here for eternity scratching our heads wondering why this is, let’s take a look at the science behind this phenomenon.
Say we are given a cake recipe as follows:
With these ingredients and following the instructions we should be able to bake a tasty vanilla cake. The instructions for this recipe state that the sugar and butter are to be mixed first, then the eggs and vanilla. In a separate mixture we combine the dry ingredients baking powder and flour, and then we mix that with the sugar/butter/eggs/vanilla mixture to form the batter (Scottosman, 2002)
Cake batter is a heterogeneous mixture. In order to understand why this is we need to know the chemistry behind this mixture.
Here we will observe just a couple of the chemical reactions that occur when mixing these ingredients, namely baking power with water and flour with water.
Baking powder is a composite of the combination of the following substances:
When baking powder is mixed with water, a reaction occurs and carbon dioxide gas CO2(g) is released.
Flour contains proteins that bond as they are mixed with water to form gluten, a new substance.
As mentioned above in the introduction, a chemical reaction is a common characteristic of a homogeneous mixture. As we are observing, it appears that the cake batter should be a homogeneous mixture. It matches this characteristic, it looks uniform, why is it heterogeneous (“Exploring baking power”)
Though many may argue that cake batter is a homogeneous mixture because of its observable uniformity, we know it is heterogeneous. This is because in a heterogeneous mixture, we can have partial reactions.
In other words, the mixture of ingredients from cake batter results in some chemical reactions here and there, but we are still left with a mixture of things that can be separated. Though it may be very difficult to separate, it is still possible and therefore heterogeneous.
Now you may be thinking why it’s so important to know this to solve the mixing phenomenon we proposed earlier. Say we mix the ingredients wrong. We are going to have chemical reactions occur in places and at times that can change the outcome of our delicious treat. This is why we must follow the mixing instructions carefully to yield the best tasting and looking result.
Same goes if we mix the batter too long. The CO2 released from the reaction of the baking soda could complete itself, meaning that the rising property within the batter will be lost and the outcome will be a failure.
Mixtures and Learning Communities
Now that we are looking at the world a little differently by observing mixtures in our lives, Let’s shift for a minute to a completely different context. We are going to talk about learning communities and how they can be considered either homogeneous or heterogeneous mixtures.
The type of learning community we’re taking about here is actually a type of course seen on the Chandler Gilbert Community College campus of Arizona. The learning community is meant to integrate two or more courses in ways that meaningfully connect the knowledge of each course. Students benefit from these courses who are pursuing a field of study, to achieve a deeper understanding of the subject, and for personal growth to help guide them in the direction they are trying to pursue.
Lets take a look at a learning community that is offered on the Chandler Gilbert Community College campus to fully understand this comparison.
Since we are on the topic of chemistry we are going to look at The chemistry and English learning community.
In this learning community, there are times when it represents a homogeneous mixture. Let’s think back on the characteristics of this type of mixture: Homogeneous mixtures are mixtures that consist of uniformly distributed components that cannot be mechanically separated nor can the individual components be observed. Also known as a solution, which is a combination of different substances to form one through a chemical reaction. So how does this represent a homogeneous mixture? We’ll show you through a series of examples.
In the learning community, English is taught and talked about just as often as chemistry is. During the English portion of class, science is integrated into the discussion frequently. On the other hand, during the Chemistry portion of class, concepts from English are brought up often as a way to change the way we view each scientific concept. In it’s definition, homogeneous mixture’s components are uniformly distributed throughout. By integrating each subject into the other, they are being uniformly distributed just like the components in a homogeneous mixture. Another characteristic of a homogeneous mixture is that it consists of components that cannot be individually observed. While English and Chemistry may seem life two separate classes, as far as assignments and projects go, the learning community treats them as one combined class.
Learning communities can also be comparable to a heterogeneous mixture. Again, lets take another look at the definition and characteristics of this type of mixture: A mixture is heterogeneous when it consists of components that are not uniformly distributed and while the individual components can be observed and usually mechanically separated. In a learning community, there are times when the classes as well as the content have to be treated as two separate things. For example, while taking a test, the test will only have content from one class. Also, there is a time slot set specifically for chemistry and another for English- this being an example of when these components in our “mixture” (English and chemistry) are not uniformly distributed.
Learning communities can be compared to both heterogeneous and homogeneous mixtures. There are times when they align better to one type rather than the other.
Mixtures, though it may not be a commonly noticed subject in our lives, can be easily observed as we try to look at the world with a scientific eye. Simple things such as baking a cakes can turn into an interesting subject for our minds to feast on.
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Czernohorsky, J. H., & Hooker, R. (n.d.). The Chemistry of Baking – NZIC. Retrieved December 1, 2016, from http://nzic.org.nz/ChemProcesses/food/6D.pdf
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Learning Communities. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2016, from http://www.cgc.maricopa.edu/academics/learningcommunities/Pages/Home.aspx