An Experiment

I like to encourage my students to be inquisitive and ask questions all the time. This is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to learn. I don’t believe in shoving knowledge down their throats. They remember things better if they are interested in the subject. I often ask them to write down twenty questions they would like answered. We share them with the class. I have done this a few times and on each occasion I am surprised by their odd queries.

I also share odds and ends with them as I adapt as a foreigner to live in Thailand. It amuses them what I don’t know about their food and customs. Recently, I was recounting a simple chore I was performing in my small house. I was cleaning out the refrigerator, a very old model, and found a very old can of beer. It must have been there for ages hidden behind some long-lasting items like jars of pickles and olives. As I was telling the story, one student raised their hand and said he had a great new question for his next list. “I want to know does beer expire?” Ha! This made me laugh. I responded, “Do you want me to try an experiment and drink it to found out.” He groaned. We then had a nice science session on what happens in the body when you eat spoiled food. We zeroed in on stomach aches and their causes. They all wanted to know if you die. Morbid little souls. I said that you could eat a moldy piece of fruit and not die, but it would taste terrible. There is all kinds of bad bacteria in old food and drink. Thus, manufacturers list an expiration date on labels. How long food lasts is called shelf life. They found this fascinating and wanted to go home and check mom’s pantry right away.

As I was about to try the beer, one enterprising child blurted out, “no.” He had looked it up on Facebook and found that a can of beer only lasts six to nine months. It then goes flat and tastes awful. He wasn’t sure if it would kill me, but I still wanted to find out. I opened the can and took a tiny sip. Yikes, it was indeed absolutely flat. Apart from that, I didn’t choke, cough, or roll on the floor trying to breathe. I had concluded my experiment and lived to tell the tale. The kinds were aghast. I warned them not to try such things on their own and that I had done it to capture their attention. This I had done. I also mentioned that beer kept in a refrigerator can last up to two years and mine had been properly stored.

“You tricked us,” they cried in unison. “You wouldn’t have died in spite of the taste and you knew it.” I pleaded guilty and ended the lesson with a hearty laugh. Yes, it had only been about one year according to the date on the label.