STEM Activity: Baking Meets Innovation in the Kitchen
Have you ever heard the expression “the best thing since sliced bread”? This expression is often used to describe an exciting new discovery. To celebrate National Bread Day on Nov. 17, take on the role of both baker and innovator as you experiment in the kitchen to see what great ideas rise!
Just as bakers use aprons to protect their clothes from getting messy while they work, you can make your own creative apron to inspire a baking-related brainstorm. Then, put your sweet suggestions into action by baking a treat that includes your own ideas!
- Craft materials (buttons, markers, stickers, pompoms, pipe cleaners, etc.)
- Fabric or plastic bag
- Notebook or scrap paper
- Pen or pencil
- Ribbon or string
- Tape or glue
- To make your apron, attach ribbon or string to a piece of fabric or a large plastic bag to tie around your waist.
- Decorate your apron however you’d like! Use stickers, pompoms or anything else you can think of to make it unique. You might decide to add your name or use your favorite colors.
- Next, think about your favorite dessert or baked good, like chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownies or birthday cake. What can you do to improve your favorite treat?
- Could you combine two recipes into one?
- What ingredients could you add? Consider simple items like chocolate chips or crushed pretzels.
- Can you create it in a different shape? For example, you could use a muffin tin instead of a cake pan.
- Could you add a delicious topping, like icing, sprinkles or a scoop of ice cream?
- As you discover ways to enhance your baked dessert, write or sketch your ideas in a notebook or on a piece of scrap paper.
- Now it’s time to test your tasty ideas! Bake a creation all your own by using your improvements to make a unique treat. Be sure to ask an adult to help you in the kitchen. Baking is a science, and chemistry plays an important role in safe taste testing.
What Are We Discovering?
Inventors go through many stages of brainstorming, including writing down their ideas and experimenting. They often work for years to improve their ideas, like National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Joseph Lee, who invented bread machines.
Lee was a successful hotel and restaurant owner, and he became troubled by the amount of unsold bread that was discarded because it was a day or more old. Believing that breadcrumbs were better than cracker crumbs for coating different kinds of food, Lee developed a device to tear, crumble and grind bread into crumbs. He also invented a machine that produced uniform bread. This device featured a kneading action that took on the work of human hands. Lee’s bread machines decreased waste and increased productivity.
Making the next “best thing since sliced bread” takes persistence. If a recipe or invention doesn’t turn out as planned, write out improvements that can be made and try again! By writing down ideas, inventors can keep a record of what they have tried. This helps them look back to see what worked and what can be improved.
For more fun ideas for exploring STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the kitchen, check out our blog!