All the solutions: teach your kids about science through cooking!
What can you learn about science through cooking? Today we’re sharing six cool projects that will blow your child’s mind...and they’re delicious to boot!
Stop us if you’ve heard this joke before:
Q: Why are chemists great at solving problems?
A: They have all the solutions!
Silly jokes aside, you already know chemistry and cooking go together—we’ve all had baking mishaps where we left out the baking soda (or, gulp, the sugar) and realized how many important chemical reactions go into baking the simplest chocolate-chip cookie. In fact, because cooking involves finding all kinds of solutions, it’s a great way to experiment (heh) with all of the sciences, not just chemistry. In this post, we’re sharing delicious recipes that will also teach your child about microbiology, the carbon cycle and how cells work...along with the chemical reactions responsible for cookies and ice cream! Put on your lab coats and get into your kitchen—these easy experiments take between a minute and a day to do, and you can eat your homework afterwards.
Ice cream in a bag: This is a classic experiment in chemistry and heat. Your kids will have fun shaking up a delicious bowl of vanilla ice cream using re-sealable bags, ice, and rock-salt—and while you enjoy your experiment, you can read through the whys of how it works in this post, which has a great explanation of how the salt/ice combo changes the temperature at which ice freezes, and absorbs heat from your cream mixture, resulting in...ice cream!
Chocolate chip cookie chemistry:
We started this post by talking about chocolate chip cookies, but do you know exactly what each ingredient does when we bake? This amazing blog post and chart (scroll to the end) shows you exactly why your cookies might be turning out cakey, crispy, crumbly or chewy—and how to adjust the way you’re adding ingredients to your recipe to make your perfect chocolate chip cookie.
Eggs and physics: Got an egg-ceptionally active scientist? This physics experiment in force and motion is best for the backyard, and illustrates some great concepts (including why airbags work) Follow up with this jaw-dropping walking-on-eggs experiment to demonstrate the power of arches! Once you’ve finished experimenting, head to our egg recipes archive to use up your test subjects and re-fuel your experimenters.
Pizza and cells:
Is yeast a living thing? What does it eat? Why does it need water to help it grow? This experiment from The Magic School Bus is a fun way to explore the basics of how cells work - and make pizza dough at the same time.
Butter Candles and the carbon cycle:
Biofuels are burnable energy sources produced by living things—like corn, algae, and even cows. Make your own biofuel and learn about the carbon cycle by making butter candles. And once you’ve figured out why these candles burn, you can use the softened butter to experiment with chocolate chip cookies! (see our first experiment for details).
Yogurt and microbiology:
Does your scientist yearn for a pet they can feed? How about one that will also make you breakfast? This project is an amazing way to make your own yogurt, using only a slow cooker and microbiology! Note that this is an all day (or overnight) recipe, so read the timing carefully to ensure you have time to enjoy your yogurt once it’s done.
Looking for more science in the kitchen? For smaller chefs, we recommend the blog Playdough to Plato, which is filled with delicious science experiments for the pre-school set (and great explanations). For older kids, check out The Kitchen Pantry Scientist. And if you’re looking for more kitchen projects, we’ve got great ideas for you: whether that's our round-up of science projects for PD days and spring break (more here!), or you're looking for more ways to get your child experimenting in the kitchen. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for daily inspiration!