“One bout of writing about test anxiety can substantially increase
students’ test scores and prevent the dreaded choke.” — SIAN BEILOCK
The write stuff
for test anxiety
By Bruce Bower
High school and college students can go
from choking to smoking on big tests by
writing about their exam fears beforehand, a new study suggests.
In what amounts to a Heimlich
maneuver for choking under pressure,
writing down test-related worries for
10 minutes before taking a major exam
appears to dislodge those concerns and
clear the way for higher achievement,
say psychologists Gerardo Ramirez and
Sian Beilock of the University of Chicago.
Writing about unspoken fears of
failure and related anxieties lets stu-
dents reevaluate such concerns and
keeps worries at bay during a test,
Ramirez and Beilock propose in the
Jan. 14 Science.
Recalling a taste of the Iron Age
Barley grains offer savory insights into ancient Celtic malt
By Bruce Bower
Early rulers of a community in what’s
now southwestern Germany liked to
party, staging elaborate feasts in a ceremonial center. The business side of
their revelries was in a nearby brewery
capable of turning out large quantities
of a beer with a dark, smoky, slightly sour
taste, new evidence suggests.
Six ditches at Eberdingen-Hochdorf,
a 2,550-year-old Celtic settlement, were
used to make high-quality barley malt, a
key beer ingredient, says archaeobota-nist Hans-Peter Stika of the University of
Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany. Thousands of charred grains unearthed in the
ditches came from a large malt-making
enterprise, Stika reports in a paper published online January 4 in Archaeological
and Anthropological Sciences.
authority on ancient beer. The oldest
known beer residue and brewing facilities
date to 5,500 years ago in the Middle East,
but archaeological clues to beer’s past are
rare (SN: 10/2/04, p. 216).
At the Celtic site, barley was soaked in
the specially constructed ditches until
it sprouted, Stika proposes. Grains were
then dried by fires at the ends of the
ditches, giving the malt a smoky taste
and a darkened color. The growth of lactic
acid bacteria stimulated by slow drying of
grains added sourness to the brew.
Unlike modern beers that are flavored with flowers of the hop plant,
the Eberdingen-Hochdorf brew
probably contained spices such as
mugwort, carrot seeds or henbane,
in Stika’s opinion. Beer makers
are known to have used these
additives by medieval times.
Excavations at the Celtic site
have yielded a few seeds of
henbane, a plant that also makes
beer more intoxicating. ea
vored with flowers of the hop plant,
Stika bases that conclusion on a close
resemblance of the ancient grains to
barley malt that he made by reproduc-
ing several methods that Iron Age folk
might have used. He also compared the
ancient grains with malt produced in
modern facilities. Upon confirming the
presence of malt at the Celtic site, Stika
reconstructed malt-making techniques
there to determine how they must
have affected beer taste.
These charred barley grains
from a site in Germany were
the basis of an Iron Age beer.
February 12, 2011 | SCIENCE NEWS | 9