By : Matt Loby / Sophomore Writer
BR science teacher Beth Vaccaro met with other science teachers, chefs, and Harvard researchers for a three-day training this past summer to explore how everyday cooking can reveal the basic principles in chemistry and how food molecules and chemical reactions can affect food texture and flavor. Now Vaccaro is sharing that knowledge with her chemistry students.
Vaccaro says, “Common ingredients, such as popcorn, tea and butter, can be used for science experiments that allow students to relate chemistry to real life.”
“The goal,” she says, “is to make chemistry more fun and hands on. As a result, students are more engaged throughout class.”
“My students are making a better connection between the standards, the content and actual life.”
BR junior Jaydon Barile is taking chemistry with Vaccaro this year.
“Personally I really like the cooking part of class. It makes chemistry class more exciting and gives me a break from the math part of chemistry. For me, it is a mixture of both science and fun,” he says.
Barile is not the only student who thinks learning through cooking is a good idea. Junior Ally Marvin says ideas surrounding chemical changes are just plain easier to understand when using cooking as the learning platform.
“Chemistry concepts that are tough to grasp in other circumstances are easier to understand this way. It makes learning chemistry easier,” she says.
Vaccaro says the cooking activities have resulted in students who are excited to attend chemistry class.
“I look forward to these activities and I think the students feel the same way,” she says.
Vaccaro’s training at Harvard this past summer, along with the ingredients and equipment for cooking in her chemistry class, were paid for by two grants obtained by Matt Nebzydoski, principal of curriculum at BR.
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For more on Harvard University’s science through cooking series with professors, chefs, and food experts, see: https://sciencecooking.seas.harvard.edu/