I’d wager that if you asked your students what their favorite class was, at least half of them would say “Lunch.” With the Science of Cooking from Exploratorium, you can take advantage of students’ inherent adoration of food and teach a little science as well.
This website contains a collection of recipes, activities, and webcasts about the science behind cooking. The main categories of food under study are eggs, pickles, candy, bread, seasonings, and meats. Within each of these categories you’ll find some fun things to use in your classroom. You may be thinking to yourself, “well, that’s nice, but the science of cooking is NOT on my standard course of study.” Bear with me as we examine the candy section (I’m thinking your students will like this one in particular) for resources that ARE in your standard course of study. For example, there’s an article on the science of sugar that includes some chemistry — its chemical formula, properties, and behavior in solutions. It’s definitely an interesting way to relate these concepts to your students. Other activities include exploring why wintergreen lifesavers spark in your mouth in the dark, and growing marshmallows to monster proportions. Both of these would definitely be fun demonstrations with your students and could be used to draw them into discussions of friction and the gas laws.
Each of the other sections offer similar resources that can be used to introduce or give examples of some more complicated scientific concepts. Teaching osmosis? Use the eggs section to make “Naked Eggs” and then use those eggs to demonstrate osmosis. Introducing fermentation or the study of microorganisms? Check out the article on pickling. Examining the sense of smell or taste? Take a look at the interactive on experiencing flavor.
While the draw for this website is the food, you can definitely use it to illustrate some real science. Just don’t torture your students with it before lunch.