I’ve dreamed for years of developing a Baking Unit within my Chemistry course. Finally (year 10!), it seems to fit perfectly with this semester’s topics of Chemical Reactions and Gas Laws. Students currently move through a unit with small, authentic pieces (a lab referencing toxic substances, an example from a dentist’s office) toward a bigger culminating task or project. For the first unit, students are asked to connect all of their new skills and understanding to produce a report for a fictional battery company.
The context of a project helps them see how all this seemingly disparate content can be used in concert, however the prompt isn’t something they feel any drive to complete. Students rarely see themselves in “Chemistry” as a career. I want to shift to tasks and projects that include the application of Chemistry in some other science-related field. Food Science seems enticing and delicious.
My focus will be on the strand of Authenticity to the Discipline, encouraging students to discover and apply all they learn to other scientific careers or disciplines might authentically use Chemistry.
How might we encourage students to engage in the application of Chemistry in an authentic, related field?
You should talk to Stacy! She is partnering with Irene Plax, a friend of ESA through Erin, who runs cooking programs in NYC schools to try to start afterschool cooking club at ESA. I could totally see opportunities for some collaboration between the three of you or we could ask Irene to help you plan a unit that would apply the content you’re studying in Chemistry to authentic challenges in cooking! (I would love to take this class by the way!)
Hi Liz! This sounds like a really exciting unit and an opportunity to draw students into chemistry who may not think of themselves acting on a daily basis as scientists. One thing to think about as you approach building Authenticity to the Discipline is the ways in which chefs, as they design dishes, do the same types of thinking that scientists and engineers do on a regular basis — experimenting to see impact of changing certain variables on a particular outcome, or prototyping and testing proposed solutions to a particular design challenge, for example. This could further deepen the level of authenticity to the discipline of science in this project.
Thanks, AJ! That’s exactly what I’m hoping for in the final project. The unit launch will explore “variables”, middle activities and research will explore different factors, and the final project will be “optimizing” some aspect of their chosen bake. Maybe I can find a local chef willing to talk about process.