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Volume III: Kitchen Chemistry


Kitchen Chemistry: Fun Food Activities and Experiments

By Christina Blassingame-Cleveland

Chemistry is the study of the way materials are put together and how they act under various conditions. There are many chemistry concepts that explain daily events we observe in life. Chemistry uses all of one's senses-what one sees, tastes, touches, smells, hears, and feels. Many or most of the experiments in this unit can be performed in a classroom setting using items found in an ordinary household kitchen. I hope this unit encourages a child's natural curiosity and introduces them to the fun of chemistry. Young children are genuinely inquisitive; these experiments and activities are designed to interest and excite them. This unit is divided into three sections. The first one is experiments with water. The second one is experiments with food. The third one is experiments using acids and bases. The last section lists various cooking activities using foods. Enjoy!


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Making the Connection between Science and Kitchen Activities; A Curriculum Unit for Secondary Special Needs Students
Susan Mann Hirsch
Taylor Allderdice High School

This unit contains five mini-units that could be taught over the course of a semester. Most special education teachers are non-certified in the area of science, but many are required to teach science to students with special needs. This science unit is specifically designed to be used by non-certified science teachers who are required to teach students that have been diagnosed with special needs. This unit covers basic science concepts and principles (the scientific method, heat, chemical reactions, safety concerns in the kitchen, and methods to prevent and/or retard food spoilage). During this unit, students are expected to actively participate in hands-on real-world activities. This unit contains related activities that could be used for regular education elementary and/or middle grade students; it also contains suggested activities specifically geared for students with special needs.


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Introducing Chemical Concepts with Food
By Susan Pater

This unit is written for high school students enrolled in a first year general chemistry course. It includes hands-on activities for students as well as teacher demonstrations. The unit is divided into nine topics: properties of matter, classification of matter, electrolytes and electrochemistry, chemical reactions, acids and bases, rate of reaction, oxidation and reduction, states of matter, and solutions. Each topic contains a teacher demonstration and discussion section and a student activity section. One or more of the materials needed to perform each activity or demonstration will be a food-related product.

The main objective is to encourage high school students to explore basic chemical concepts and to have them relate what is observed or discussed in the classroom to the world outside the classroom.


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Chemistry and Nutrition Are You Fit For the Challenge?
By Phyllis Roberts
David B. Oliver High School

At an alarming rate, teenagers are being predisposed to illnesses and diseases because of poor nutrition. Today, teenagers are at high risk for obesity, diabetes, etc. because of poor food choices. According to the U.S.D.A, the healthy eating index for children during a three year average form 1994-1996 indicated that 63.5 % of females and 62.2 % of males were healthy eaters and that out of children ages 15-18, 60.9 % females and 60.7% of males were healthy eaters.

This curriculum unit is designed to promote awareness of the long and short-term affects of malnutrition and its relationship to chemistry. This unit will assess how we view nutrition, what it takes to maintain a healthy body and what happens when our daily requirements are not met. We will the analyze how the body metabolizes and uses vitamins and minerals, gather a better understanding of what a calorie is and why caloric intake is important, and discuss the negative affects of fast foods and other sources of unhealthy eating.


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Easy to Prepare, Easy to Do, Easy to Clean Up Not Much Chance to Make Mistakes
Kitchen Chemistry
By Alice Rysdon

This unit teaches middle school students that have varying amounts of previous knowledge about chemistry. This unit is meant to serve as an introduction to students' understanding of chemistry. It was designed to be a fun, activity-driven group of lessons that do not require a large amount of scientific equipment. They do require access to water and a sink would be useful for cleanup. Using materials that are easy to obtain and not conducive to misuse by students, scientific experiments and demonstrations are conducted that help students to understand chemistry on a more concrete level.


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Cooking Up K2I3(T)C3HE2N3 Elements
By Linnell Simmons
Sunnyside Elementary School

The focus on Cooking Up K2I3(T)C3HE2N3 Elements is to use basic items in the kitchen to create an understanding of elements and chemical reactions. Science is unique as a subject in the curriculum of schools all over the world. This uniqueness results from the variety of materials and experiences necessary for its effective teaching. Other subjects can be learned using ordinary tools such as textbooks, paper and pencil. These are also essential for the teaching of science but if these are the only tools, science becomes boring and uninteresting. Experience is needed to effectively teach science. Learning must also be connected with something the children already know. The kitchen is one of those places. Children obtain special interest in objectives when food is involved. This design creates exciting, meaningful, hands-on learning. The activities in this unit will inspire children to continue further investigations in the field of chemistry.


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From the Kitchen to the Classroom: Ideas and Lessons for the Science Teacher
By John Snodgrass

If you are a science teacher of middle school age students who believes in the value of hands-on activities and interesting demonstrations, you should consider reading further. Using the kitchen as a resource, the author has compiled many unique, interesting, educationally sound laboratory activities and demonstrations that are easily adaptable to the classroom. Corn in its many guises, ice cream, kitchen indicators, polymers, E. coli, Mad Cow disease, and foot and mouth disease are just some of the topics offered. The emphasis is on hands-on and fun!


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Chemistry Supplement to High School Food Technology
By Edythe M. VanDyke

Cooking, coupled with explicit scientific explanation, is a growing area of interest in the scientific community. This paper seeks to give this dimension to the high school food technology students. Currently these students review and are able to recite by rote the six general classes of nutrients. They then usually study the specific nutrients within each general class. This curriculum supplement will enrich the existing course of study by discussing chemistry repeatedly. It will compare and illustrate major differences among the nutrients, including the molecular structures of carbohydrates, fats and proteins or between common ingredients, such as flour, sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. It will cite instructions for testing the chemical differences of common ingredients. Simple experiments, with directions or explanations adapted from the chemistry lab, will stimulate students to bring scientific knowledge and explanations to their cooking experiences.


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Four Leavening Agents Used for Baking
By Priscilla Witten
Oliver High School

In this unit prepared for ninth grade students we will explore the use of leavening agents. Experiments for each of the leavening agents, air, baking soda, baking powder and yeast, will be conducted to show visually the reactions taking place. Seven food preparation labs will follow the scientific experiments. Each lab will seek to replicate the leavening process. Students will be able to transfer knowledge gained from scientific experimentation to the preparation of particular foods. In addition, students will be introduced to the concept of using scientific formulae as they relate to the preparation of baked goods. This unit could be easily adapted and used by high school chemistry teachers as well as family and consumer science teachers.

The concluding activity for this unit is to write an essay describing the four leavening agents explored. The students will compare and explain how each does its work. Learning is very effective when one critically evaluates, compares, investigates and writes their findings. It is hoped that this unit acts as an inspiration to students to always learn more, for there is more to learn.


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Using Kitchen Chemicals to Identify Key Concepts in Chemistry
Raymond Zanetti

This unit incorporates enrichment exercises for high school students taking introductory level chemistry. It consists of demonstrations that can be done by the teacher, and hands-on experiments that can be performed by the students. The content is not intended to be a sequential unit of study addressing one major concept, but is comparable to a collection of activities to supplement the existing curriculum and assist students in attaining the established standards. The standards that will be addressed include: determining density, identifying the characteristics of a mixture, separation of a mixture using physical properties of the substances involved, identification of acids and bases by the use of indicators, oxidation-reduction, applying Boyle’s and Charles Laws, and identifying chemical changes. I have explained each activity using a description of the lesson followed by how this exercise fits into the existing curriculum. During the course of the school year, these lessons can be used to enhance the core curriculum and facilitate learning.


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Chatham University
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Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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