Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Turn Cooking Into Science Class

Turn Cooking Into Science Class

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I used to homeschool my son, Taylor. Rather than use a regular curriculum all the time, I really tried to find ways to incorporate specific lessons into everyday living. Last night on Top Chef Masters reminded me of this because the challenge was for the chefs to teach a scientific principal to high school students at a science fair while making great food. Bravo TV reruns the episodes often so I highly suggest watching that episode if you have a chance. Now we did lots of experiments with kitchen items before, but take it to the level of actually cooking foods you will eat using scientific principals. top chef masters science
Now obviously the master chefs on the show might have used a few more techniques and tools that you wouldn’t do at home. That doesn’t mean you and your kids still can’t learn about science while you are cooking. You can also adjust the lesson based on the level of your kids.
  • Mixtures, compounds, emulsions: Find different recipes to show these principals. Kids can see that some can be separated but others cannot once they are put together. Ideas would be making trail mix, a cake mix, salad dressing, etc.
  • Yeast is a topic all on its own. Show live yeast vs. inactive yeast. Make different breads that are more and less dense. Feed the yeasts, etc.
  • Make some homemade rock candy to show crystal structure
You get the idea. There are tons of websites that can offer you more specific recipes (experiments) to try out. Don’t approach it as “school” for your kids if they generally aren’t fans of school. Just make it something fun to do together with them this summer. Learning this way keeps them more interested and helps them retain information since it shows them the real life uses for what they are learning. Another great resource is Alton Brown’s Good Eats show on Food Network. Alton does a great job explaining the science (in a fun way) behind the recipes he creates. A great book (for older kids or parents) is What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained (there is a 2nd version now also). This gives a lot of that same type of science behind the method cooking like Alton Brown and is a fun book.
Don’t sell yourself short that you can’t teach science either. It is ok if you do not know the science behind it yourself yet either, just learn right along with the kids.
Do you have any ideas for learning science through cooking?
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