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Inventors and Inventions
Louis Pasteur



Louis Pasteur
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 8 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.29

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    rabid, flask, sanitary, anthrax, non-living, microbiology, decisive, broth, discovery, scientific, variable, spontaneous, knowledge, theory, generate, method
     content words:    French Academy, Louis Pasteur


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Louis Pasteur
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     Everyone learns about the scientific method. In science class, you learn all of the steps. You learn what a variable is, and you learn that it is a good idea to experiment with just one variable at a time. You learn to have a control to compare your results to. It's just an ordinary thing that everyone learns in school now, but it wasn't always that way. Back in the early 1800s, the scientific method was something new. Many people who did experiments had never heard of variables or controls.
 
2     At that time, many people based their ideas on observations like scientists do today, but they didn't go on to use the rest of the scientific method. The result was that people believed some things to be true that seem really strange to us today. A good example is the idea of "spontaneous generation." This was the belief that life forms could occur "spontaneously" from non-living matter. People saw maggots in rotting meat, and they assumed that the maggots just showed up out of nowhere. They saw frogs in the mud after a flood, and assumed that the frogs just popped up from the mud. Beetles, eels, and many tiny bugs were thought to arrive that way. The people of that time even had a name for tiny creatures that arrived spontaneously: "animalcules."
 
3     In 1859, the French Academy of Science had a contest to see if anyone could prove, one way or the other, whether spontaneous generation really happened. Louis Pasteur entered the contest. He designed an experiment using two flasks containing meat broth. One flask had the neck bent into a certain shape so that air could still enter it, but bugs or germs from the air would settle into a bent part of the neck and not go down into the broth. The other flask was left in its normal shape. The result was that germs grew in the normal shaped flask but not in the one with the special neck. Since germs grew in one flask but not in the other, he proved that the germs did not spontaneously generate themselves but arrived from the air outside the flask. Pasteur won the contest. He had proven once and for all that spontaneous generation did not really happen.

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