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Trends in STEM

Kid-Friendly Kitchen Science

Seeking fun, hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities your family can enjoy any time of the year? Look no further than your very own kitchen! When you embrace small messes and allow your child to help you mix, measure and bake, they will witness math and science in action while also building important life skills. Plus, they’ll cook up a confidence boost when they share their delicious experiments with loved ones!

There are endless snack, dessert and meal options you can make – each with its own unique lessons. To get you started, we’re sharing two kid-friendly recipes along with learnings to discuss with your child as you spend time together in the kitchen.


Baking Bread From Scratch

As a key component to classic childhood favorites like French toast and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, baking a loaf of homemade bread with your child is a great choice, especially if you have some experience in the kitchen. It allows ample opportunity for little hands to help with everything from mixing ingredients to kneading dough. We suggest trying this recipe from Food Network.

To start the process, you need to enlist the help of a very special living organism – yeast! As a leavening agent, yeast plays an important role. It helps the bread to rise through a chemical reaction as it bakes. Patricia Christie, a chemist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology lecturer, explains that yeast eats the sugar in your dough mixture and produces gas in the form of carbon dioxide, leading to bread that is light and fluffy in texture.

While this process is not speedy, it offers a great opportunity to explain to your child what happens if you don’t allow your baked goods the time they need. If the dough does not have time to rise, the finished bread will be dense and undesirable, and if it is removed from the oven too early, it will not bake all the way through and might be unsafe to eat. So before you can serve them a slice of fresh bread, you can share a lesson in patience.


Making Portable, Miniature Mug Cakes

If you and your child are learning the basics of baking together, don’t worry! A yummy microwave mug cake like this one from Food Network is quick and requires only a few steps, making it the perfect starter dessert.

Baking powder acts as the leavening agent in this dessert. While baking powder is not alive like yeast, it still causes the batter to expand when encountering liquid and heat by releasing gas in the form of carbon dioxide, helping to make your cake light and airy.

Looking to take this experiment up a notch? Now that you know baking soda helps you achieve a fluffy mug cake, encourage your child to question the importance of other ingredients like eggs and oil. Try making other versions of your mug cake by swapping out one of the ingredients and seeing how it changes the final treat, or watch this video from the Royal Institution to learn how some components in a basic mug cake can affect the structure and texture of your dessert.


Adding in Math

These experiments are also great opportunities to practice precise measurements and fractions with your child! In fact, working with fractions is an important skill in baking. Just like adding or taking away an ingredient, having too much or too little of an ingredient could have a major impact on your dessert. Take time to help your child work with various measurement tools and reinforce the importance of paying attention to fractions in baking. Don’t be afraid to try again if your first attempt falls flat!

Are you making enough treats to share? Help your child practice multiplying fractions to achieve a serving size suitable for sharing with your entire household. Then, divide your dessert into equal parts to sweeten the day of the whole family!


Keep Learning and Creating

To discover new and exciting ways to bring STEM learning to life for your child, and to learn additional ideas for uncovering science through baking, check out our blog.

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