The Green Band has sparked our Spark Arc with one of our favorite topics- food! Side story: On our first day of school this year, while each child was sharing what they were excited about, Sakira said she was excited to be in my band because I’m the “cooking collaborator.” A number of children nodded and agreed with her. I was completely unaware of my reputation as the “cooking collaborator,” and having only cooked a couple of times last year with my band (which didn’t seem like more than any other collaborator), I wasn’t sure where it’ had come from. Nonetheless I have felt some pressure to live up to my reputation, and I do really love to cook.
Thus inspired our cooking unit. Cooking is, by definition, “the practice or skill of preparing food by combining, mixing, and heating ingredients,” so why not explore this idea of heat and food through a scientific lens during the Spark Arc? The Greenies started the unit by each receiving a carrot. We observed the uncooked carrots, took notes, and then each decided on a different way to cook our carrot. We microwaved a carrot, boiled a carrot, grated it and fried it like a latke, roasted it for different lengths of time, and even tried to light one on fire (it did not work). Kids checked for changes in the color, texture, size, smell and taste. We then shared our results with the band.
After our open-ended carrot experiment, the Greenies then designed their own experiments following the Scientific Method. Students asked themselves a question they wanted to answer about food, formed a hypothesis, and then designed their own experiment. We talked about what a testable question is, learned complex scientific vocabulary like “independent and dependent variables,” and what a “control” is. The Green Band hit the grocery store and then performed their experiments in the kitchen.
Working either independently or in pairs, the Greenies conducted their experiments carefully to test their hypotheses and answer their food questions. Blaise boiled a jalapeño to see if it would change the spice-level, Tamasen and Sakira fried a peach to see how it affected the texture, Apollo microwaved a potato to see how it changed the texture and color, Soleil fried berries to analyze their look, smell and taste, Ramses made chocolate mixed with habanero pepper to see what happens when you mix sweet and spicy, and lastly Sully fried peas to see if it would change the texture. (Isaac and Sadie were not at school for our first round of experiments.) Each experiment had a control so that kids were able to accurately compare their experiment group to the untouched produce.
After finding and sharing their results, the students tweaked their hypotheses and redesigned their experiments, changing one element, but keeping the rest of the variables the same, for a last and final experiment. Blaise roasted his jalapeño, Tamasen and Sakira toasted their peach, Apollo pan-fried his potato, Soleil baked her berries, Ramses added pepper to chocolate milk, and Sully fried a half head of cabbage. Isaac was able to pan-fry his potato slices, and Sadie attempted to fry watermelon slices. We got some delicious, some mushy, and some gross results. We followed up these experiments by reading an article on how different cooking methods affect nutritional value.
On December 7th, Greenies will celebrate our cooking experiments by hosting Community Friday. Hope you’ll be there!!