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Scientific Text Analysis (Grade 10)

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Scientific Text Analysis

Question: Why Does Cutting an Onion Make You Cry?

Onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes' lachrymal glands so they release tears. Scientists used to blame the enzyme allinase for the instability of substances in a cut onion. Recent studies from Japan, however, proved that lachrymatory-factor synthase, (a previously undiscovered enzyme) is the culprit (Imani et al, 2002).

The process goes as follows:

Lachrymatory-factor synthase is released into the air when we cut an onion.
The synthase enzyme converts the sulfoxides (amino acids) of the onion into sulfenic acid.

The unstable sulfenic acid rearranges itself into syn-ropanethial-S-oxide.
Syn-propanethial-S-oxide gets into the air and comes in contact with our eyes. The lachrymal glands become irritated and produces the tears!
Why was the passage written?
  1. To answer a question
  2. To explain a scientific phenomenon
  3. To talk about how onions grow
  4. To keep people from crying when cutting onions
Scientists know exactly why cutting an onion makes a person cry.
  1. True
  2. False
Based on the passage an IRRITANT is...
  1. Something that is annoying
  2. Something that makes you cry
  3. Something that causes bodily discomfort
  4. Something that is spicy
Describe what happens when you cut into an onion.

The enzyme allinase irritates the glands that cause tears.
  1. True
  2. False
Question: Are Black-Eyed Peas Really Peas?
Answer: No

Black-eyed peas (Vigna unguiculata) are a variety of the cowpea and are part of the family of beans & peas (Leguminosae or Fabaceae in the USA). Although called a pea, it is actually a bean. Both peas and beans are legumes, and both have edible seeds and pods. According to the Penguin Companion to Food, bean is a “term loosely applied to any legume whose seeds or pods are eaten, not classed separately as a pea or lentil.” Beans traditionally were in the genus Phaseolus, but now some of the species, including the black-eyed pea, are in the genus Vigna. Peas are in the genus Pisum.

The common names of beans and peas are not consistent; other legumes popularly called “peas” are the butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea), the chickpea (Cicer arietinum), pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan), and the winged pea (Lotus tetragonolobus). As legumes they are extremely nourishing vegetables, both to people and to the soil. They are able to fix nitrogen, meaning nitrogen from the air is taken in by the plant and bacteria living in the roots convert it to a useable plant nutrient. Because of this process, nitrogen-fixing plants improve soil quality by adding nutrients back into the soil.

Fun Facts about black-eyed peas:

Cultivated since pre-historic times in China and India, they are related to the mung bean. The ancient Greeks and Romans preferred them to chickpeas.

Brought to the West Indies from West Africa by slaves, by earliest records in 1674.

Originally used as food for livestock, they became a staple of the slaves’ diet. During the Civil War, black-eyed peas (field peas) and corn were thus ignored by Sherman’s troops. Left behind in the fields, they became important food for the Confederate South.

In the American South, eating black-eyed peas and greens (such as collards) on New Year’s Day is considered good luck: the peas symbolize coins and the greens symbolize paper money.

They are a key ingredient in Hoppin’ John (peas, rice and pork) and part of African-American “soul food.”

Originally called mogette (French for nun). The black eye in the center of the bean (where it attaches to the pod) reminded some of a nun’s head attire.
Black-eyed peas are really peas.
  1. True
  2. False
How are black-eyed peas and regular peas similar?
  1. They're in the same genus.
  2. They're both peas.
  3. They both have edible seed pods.
  4. They both are green in color.
Black-Eyed peas are a common food in the current-day South. Why do you think this is?

Black-eyed peas have a black circle that looks kind of like an eye.
  1. True
  2. False
Unlike black-eyed peas, chickpeas are actually peas.
  1. True
  2. False

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