The science of “Ban Mian”

I was slurping my favorite hot “ban mian” in in my favorite coffee shop last night and found myself sweating, with mucus flowing down my nose as if I was having a cold. That’s my usual reaction whenever I slurp up my favorite “ban mian”. It feels kinda troublesome having to wipe away my sweat and mucus regularly, but the great taste and smell certainly make me feel good after eating it again and again!

“Why do you always end up like that, mom? Why does your ‘ban mian’ seem to be hot forever” My two daughters, A and M, chuckled and asked me this question. “Wow! Do I look so uncool?” I wondered to myself. Our conversations revolve around “ban mian” subsequently. I showed them the layer of oil on the “ban mian” soup and asked them to think about the role of the layer of oil in keeping the soup hot  for a long time. Yup, too much oil is not healthy, but it makes my soup hot and yummy! Eventually, A, the older one, was seen explaining the concept of “heat transfer” to her younger sister. “Oh, I see!” mumbled M, who examined her bowl of healthy chicken macaroni soup and seemed to nod in agreement. I supposed she had understood her sister’s point.

I have chosen to illustrate this point pictorially.
The receptors (Source: Britannica Online) in my olfactory system (Source: HowStuffWorks) trigger a chemical response that causes my sweat and mucus to flow involuntarily whenever I smell and taste “ban mian”. These are difficult scientific words that will require skills and perhaps, some trial and error to explain them well in simpler terms. A and M have seen my teaching materials for my workshop and seem to relate to the funny examples I intend to use in my workshop. This conversation leads me to think of the need to use simpler ways to explain technical terms to my young audience in my workshop. That’s the challenge of science communication.
James White from MIT has chosen to relate the idea of heat transfer by using his video found in the MIT-K12 video repository.
Whether it’s using “ban mian” as an illustration or using a video, there are both great ways of communicating science to students of various ages.

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